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Democrats in Pennsylvania have called for a state lawmaker to resign after he rebuked a male colleague with language criticized as homophobic.
The viral moment sparked by Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, a Republican from western Pennsylvania known for his conservative views, occurred Tuesday at an otherwise routine state House committee meeting about land use.
Fellow lawmaker Rep. Matt Bradford was seated beside Metcalfe, the committee chairman. As he spoke, he touched Metcalfe's arm, bringing business to a halt.
"Representative Bradford, look, I'm a heterosexual," Metcalfe interrupted. "I have a wife, I love my wife. I don’t like men, as you might. But stop touching me all the time."
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"Like, if you want to touch somebody, you have people on your side of the aisle that might like it," he added as Bradford, a Democrat whose district is outside Philadelphia, laughed. "I don't."
Another committee member, Rep. Brian Sims, who is the first openly gay state legislator in Pennsylvania, responded, "I do, I do," triggering laughter.
Bradford, who has a wife and four children, responded that the meeting was "officially off the rails." "My intent was just to beg for your permission for about 30 seconds," he said.
"Then beg, don't touch," Metcalfe said as a planned vote on a committee bill was postponed.
Metcalfe later told The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Bradford was "continually reaching out and touching me" and he told him to stop. Bradford told the newspaper that the touching was harmless.
Neither lawmaker could be immediately reached for further comment Wednesday.
The Pennsylvania Democratic Party said in a statement that Metcalfe should resign given past statements it deems as racist and homophobic. Metcalfe has supported legislation that would make English the official language of Pennsylvania and has blocked Sims from talking about gay marriage on the House floor.
In July, Metcalfe accused Sims of calling him an "ignorant, racist bigot," The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Metcalfe said in a video to his supporters and constituents that "we must continue to defeat the left, defeat unruly progressive mobs, and defeat all other enemies of liberty."