HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Wolf on Wednesday urged Republican House leaders to consider ousting a conservative representative as chairman of a key committee based on "offensive and discriminatory" statements he made about homosexuality the day before.
"Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident but part of a disturbing pattern of behavior," the Democratic governor said in a statement. "In light of this documented history of discriminatory statements, I urge House leadership to reexamine whether it is appropriate for Rep. Metcalfe to continue controlling the committee that oversees civil rights legislation."
The governor was referring to Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, a Republican from Butler County, who chairs the House state government committee. Comments Metcalfe made during a committee meeting Tuesday went viral after they were captured on video and posted to the internet.
In the video, the committee's ranking Democrat, Rep. Matt Bradford, touches Metcalfe on the forearm for a split-second and Metcalfe asks him to stop touching him and emphasizes that he is heterosexual. "I don't like men — as you might," Metcalfe says. He tells Bradford at one point, "Like, if you want to touch somebody, you have people on your side of the aisle that might like it. I don't."
Metcalfe, a social conservative opposed to civil rights protections based on sexual orientation, has made statements construed as antigay in the past.
Metcalfe said Wednesday that he does not think House leaders will seek to remove him from his post as committee chairman, saying he feels he has been efficient and effective in that role. He called Wolf's remarks a "partisan attack" motivated partly by his past vocal criticisms of the governor.
Metcalfe said of the governor's remarks, "I think it should be offensive to everyone in this state, and they should really question whether or not this governor has any principles at all that he would stand on the side of a perpetrator."
Wolf and Metcalfe often take different stances on social issues, especially when it comes to sexual orientation. The governor has expressed frustration that a bill that would expand nondiscrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender expression or identity has not left Metcalfe's committee. Metcalfe said Wednesday that he does not think the bill has enough votes to pass out of his committee.
Wolf's remarks came after the state Democratic Party on Tuesday branded Metcalfe a "walking, talking embarrassment to Pennsylvanians" and called for him to resign.
Told of the party's call for his resignation, Metcalfe said Tuesday that he would not step down. He also noted that the party had called for his resignation before.
He said: "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 that he has asked Bradford to stop touching him before. Bradford — who is married to a woman and has four children — said Tuesday that he was trying to "restrain him so I could finish my thought" and that he was not making a pass at Metcalfe.
"I have no idea what goes on in his head," Bradford said Tuesday of Metcalfe, "and some days I'm glad for that."