A Republican lawmaker is facing calls to resign after telling a Democrat to stop touching him because “I don’t like men as you might”.
During a House State Government Committee meeting yesterday, Democrat Matt Bradford lightly touched his colleague, majority chairman Daryl Metcalfe, on the arm.
He did so while emphasising that he understood the Republican’s point of view, but was interrupted for a rant which left the committee – and Bradford – shocked and appalled.
This was because Metcalfe, who like Bradford serves in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, seemed to take the light contact as a sexual approach.
“Representative Bradford just, look, I’m a heterosexual; I have a wife; I love my wife,” he said.
“I don’t like men as you might, but don’t – stop touching me all the time.
“Keep your hands to yourself. Like, if you want to touch somebody you have people on your side of the aisle that might like it.
Shocked laughter and silence followed, into which Bradford gamely interjected, telling the room: “Ok, we’re officially off the rails.”
He added, between disbelieving laughter: “My intent was just to beg for your permission for about 30 seconds.”
“Then beg, don’t touch,” came the response from Metcalfe.
Bradford laughed, then admitted to the other lawmakers: “I don’t know where we go from here.”
Speaking to the Pittsburgh Gazette, Metcalfe claimed that for months, Bradford had been “continually reaching out and touching me.”
Bradford – who is married to a woman – said he was simply reaching out to “restrain him so I could finish my thought.”
He also denied he was coming on to the Republican representative, adding: “I have no idea what goes on in his head – and some days I’m glad for that.”
Metcalfe, of course, is not the only Republican to be accused of explicit homophobia in recent times.
In an email to NBC10, Bradford condemned Metcalfe’s tirade.
“Yesterday’s rant by Mr Metcalfe was stunning and then degenerated into something far more appalling,” he wrote.
“Mr Metcalfe has a long history of extreme behaviour and anti-gay rhetoric. Sadly, this is not the first time Mr Metcalfe has demonstrated such animus.
“Yesterday was merely a new low in the State Government Committee triggered by a rather innocuous attempt to extend debate on an otherwise non-controversial piece of legislation.”
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Pennsylvania Democrats called for Metcalfe, 55, to resign.
In a statement, they wrote that Metcalfe “has always been a problem”.
“In addition to being racist, Metcalfe is homophobic.
“He has silenced gay lawmakers, held up non-discrimination laws and, just today, went on a random homophobic tirade directed at one of his colleagues.”
Brandon Cwalina, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Democrats, also called for the Republican to step down.
“Enough is enough. Daryl Metcalfe is a walking, talking embarrassment to Pennsylvanians and doesn’t deserve the honour of serving in public office,” Cwalina said.
“For years Metcalfe has taken policy positions based on bigoted misconceptions and fear of minority groups and the LGBT community, but today he has gone beyond the pale.
“We are again calling on Daryl Metcalfe to resign and to apologise to all Pennsylvanians for his ridiculously bigoted behaviour.”
Watch the whole incident below: