A conservative Pennsylvania lawmaker is doubling down on comments he made suggesting a fellow lawmaker might be gay for touching him on the arm.
The incident occurred Tuesday in the House State Government Committee between chairman Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler, and minority chair Matthew Bradford, D-Montgomery.
During a discussion on a land use bill, Bradford briefly touched Metcalfe’s arm while making a point.
Metcalfe took offense, interrupting Bradford to tell him, “I’m a heterosexual, I have a wife, I love my wife, I don’t like men, as you might, but — stop touching me all the time.”
“If you want to touch somebody, you have people on your side of the aisle that might like it,” Metcalfe continued. “I don’t.”
Outcry was swift, with many calling Metcalfe’s words homophobic. The state Democratic Party is demanding his resignation.
But Metcalfe is making it clear — he’s not sorry.
He said he chose those words intentionally to draw attention to what he calls an ongoing dispute.
“Staff members and other members have said they thought [Bradford] was doing it routinely throughout the meetings to try and provoke me,” Metcalfe said.
He said Bradford’s “constant” touching is tantamount to battery, and could justify a lawsuit — though he noted he currently has no plans to sue his co-chair.
He also bristled at being accused of homophobia.
“It’s routine in our society now, that homosexuals can flaunt their sexuality in our faces,” he said. “But me as a heterosexual, I say I’m a heterosexual, and somehow that’s going to be offensive to people?”
Bradford, who is married with children, denied touching Metcalfe to irritate him, and said the Republican overreacted.
“The chairman’s a unique guy. I’ve never seen anyone go from there to melting down in an anti-gay diatribe,” he said.
But he also said he’ll be sure not to make contact with Metcalfe in the next committee meeting.