Gay Legislator Calls for Censure Over 'God's Law' Comment

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP Photo/Matt Rourke, file
    Pa. Rep. Brian Sims, D-Philadelphia, said he had no intention of "chastising" during his speech to the House. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, file)

    Openly gay legislator Rep. Brian Sims, D-Philadelphia, has asked the Pennsylvania Legislature to censure Rep. Daryl Metcalfe  for comments made to WHYY on Thursday.

    Rep. Metcalfe, R-Butler, told WHYY he prevented his colleague from talking about the Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage on the floor of the Pennsylvania House on Thursday because:

    "I did not believe that as a member of that body that I should allow someone to make comments such as he was preparing to make that ultimately were just open rebellion against what the word of God has said, what God has said, and just open rebellion against God's law."

    Sims rose again on the House floor Thursday evening to ask the Legislature to reprimand Metcalfe for his comments. He told colleagues he felt that his character had been questioned.

    "It is my understanding of the rules of this body that I could never call another member a bigot, a homophobe or a racist, nor would I, but I do ask that this body recognize that the language used against me as a member does not live up to the standards set by this body," he said.

    The House determined that it could not censure Metcalfe for comments made elsewhere.

    Metcalfe was one of at least two Republican legislators who raised procedural objections that halted Sims from making his comments to the Legislature, including, according to Sims, Rep. Will Tallman, R-Abbottstown, who did not return a request for comment yesterday.

    Anti-discrimination fight ahead

    In a related matter, Sims plans to reintroduce a bill protecting employees from being discriminated against in the workplace for "sexual orientation and gender identity or expression." The legislation, HB 300, has historically gone through the State Government Committee, which Rep. Metcalfe chairs.

    Metcalfe has stated that he will either refuse to bring the bill up for a vote or will bring it up to be defeated quickly.

    That has the bill's proponents lobbying House Speaker Sam Smith to send it elsewhere. The bill currently has 88 co-sponsors.

    Sims also announced yesterday he plans to introduce a same-sex marriage bill in the legislature.

    On Thursday, Smith, R-Jefferson, told Sims the proper procedure under the circumstances would be either going through the Ethics Committee or seeking a House resolution.

    Sims told Newsworks/WHYY that he did not plan to pursue the matter.

    Some Republicans infuriated

    Rep. Mike Fleck, Pennsylvania's first openly gay lawmaker, said of Rep. Metcalfe's move to silence Rep. Sims: "I, like many of my Republican colleagues, was infuriated. I think we should be able to speak on any issue. If you don't like it, you can get up and leave."

    When asked if he thought it was appropriate for Rep. Metcalfe to be censured, Fleck said, "I think Representative Metcalfe would love to be censured. I mean, he would love the national press. I mean, quite frankly, that's how he raises money — by exploiting an issue and saying, 'Oh look they're coming after me. Send me 5 bucks.' So you know, I seriously don't blame Representative Sims for wanting due recourse and all this, but I just don't know what is gained throughout the whole thing."

    Fleck, R-Huntingdon, said Metcalfe has "certainly lost a lot of respect by many members," because of the flap over Sims' attempt to speak.

    He said he's not sure the 'God's law' statement is grounds for censure, because it didn't happen within the confines of being in session and on the House floor.

    Fleck said, "when I came out, the majority of my colleagues — anyone under 45 — it was more or less a non-issue for them."

    Credit: Pa. House


    This story was reported through a news coverage partnership between NBC10.com and NewsWorks.org.