GOP rep loses cool, sparks resignation calls from Dems after colleague briefly touches his arm

GOP rep loses cool, sparks resignation calls from Dems after colleague briefly touches his arm
An arm touch spiraled into a government controversy in a Pennsylvania committee meeting. (Image source: Washington Post video screenshot)

What would have been an unremarkable land-use bill debate at a Pennsylvania state government committee turned into a bizarre back-and-forth about sexuality that has some calling for a representative to resign.

The exchange

State Rep. Matt Bradford (D) briefly put his hand on the left forearm of a colleague sitting next to him, Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R).

That’s where things went off the rails.

“Look, I’m heterosexual,” Metcalfe, said, interrupting Bradford. “I have a wife, I love my wife, I don’t like men — as you might. But stop touching me all the time.”

Bradford initially laughed off the comment, along with others present at the meeting.

Metcalfe wasn’t joking.

“Keep your hands to yourself,” Metcalfe said. “If you want to touch somebody, you have people on your side of the aisle who might like it.”

Bradford is married to a woman, and has four children.

The backlash

Metcalfe’s outburst was not well-received.

Gov. Tom Wolf called for House Republicans to remove Metcalfe as chairman of the committee because it oversees civil rights legislation, among other things.

Wolf called the comments “offensive and discriminatory.”

Rep. Brian Sims, Pennsylvania’s first openly gay legislator, came down hard against Metcalfe in a Facebook statement, and even called for Metcalfe to resign.

“PA State Representative Daryl Metcalfe disrupted a State Government Committee meeting this morning — about a land-use bill! — to loudly declare his heterosexuality!” Sims wrote. “You can’t make this stuff up! The most homophobic, transphobic, racist, sexist, xenophobic member of our government is using legislative time, and taxpayer dollars, to interrupt a meeting to announce his sexual orientation.”

Bradford said he “talks with his hands” and is in the habit of trying to calm Metcalfe down during committee meetings.

Metcalfe defends himself, doubles down

Metcalfe dismissed the governor’s criticisms as partisan posturing.

“To try and label people as being sexist, homophobic, or racist, or whatever they want to use as their label … the fact is the majority of men in our culture will not want a man who they don’t know touching them,” Metcalfe said to Philly.com.

He also, again, raised suspicion about Bradford’s sexuality.

“I don’t know what [Bradford’s sexuality] is,” Metcalfe said. “But I know from him touching me all the time that he indicates he likes to touch men.”

Metcalfe made it clear he has no intention of stepping down for what he said.

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