Photo courtesy of the candidate
On Dec. 5, a video of Pennsylvania state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Cranberry) exclaiming he is a “heterosexual” when a Democratic colleague touched his arm went viral. It spread so far and wide, that on Dec. 7 it was featured
on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert
and Jimmy Kimmel Live.
And while Metcalfe’s blatant homophobia is undoubtedly humorous to most Americans, some people involved in Pennsylvania state politics are taking it seriously. On Dec. 6, Gov. Tom Wolf (D-York) requested that House Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Marshall) re-examine
Metcalfe’s chairmanship of the House’s state government committee.
And the woman who is running to challenge Turzai’s state House District 28 seat, Democrat Emily Skopov
of Marshall, was even more unambiguous in her request; she believes Turzai needs to remove Metcalfe from the committee chair.
“Mike Turzai needs to do the right thing and remove Daryl Metcalfe as chair,” said Skopov in a press release. “Metcalfe’s actions are repugnant and dishonor our state government. By allowing Metcalfe to continue as chair, Mike Turzai further demonstrates his lack of a moral compass, endorsing homophobia and bigotry. It is time for Speaker Turzai to grow a spine and do the right thing.”
is arguably the general assembly’s most anti-LGBTQ member. He has tried to deny spousal benefits to same-sex couples and tried to make it illegal for LGBTQ people to marry. Metcalfe also chairs the state House’s state government committee, and thus controls the fate of civil-rights legislation that can affect the lives of LGBTQ Pennsylvanians. He has used this position to refuse to let the Fairness Act
see a vote (the bill would grant LGBTQ Pennsylvanians the same non-discrimination rights that minorities and Christians receive under federal law).
According to a 2015 study from the Public Religion Research Institute, 70 percent
of Pennsylvanians support a statewide LGBTQ non-discrimination law, while only 25 percent oppose such a law.
Turzai, as the state House’s highest ranking member, has the ability to move Metcalfe out of the state government committee into another committee chairmanship, but he alone cannot strip Metcalfe from his current chairmanship, because of Metcalfe's seniority. It should also be noted that Turzai placed anti-marijuana state Rep. Matt Baker
(R-Tioga) at the chair of the health committee, which was a main reason why the state took so long to pass a medical-marijuana bill, despite widespread public support.
In a Dec. 7 article in Lancaster's LNP
, Turzai brushed off
calls to move Metcalfe out of the state government chair seat. A request for comment to Turzai's office was not returned.
Regardless, Skopov feels that Metcalfe should be removed from the state government committee because of his anti-LGBTQ views, as well as other controversial behavior in the past. For example, even though the 1964 federal civil-rights act granted non-discrimination rights to immigrants, in 2015 Metcalfe attempted to pass English-only legislation and brought a white nationalist to Harrisburg to lobby for his cause.
“Time and time again, Representative Metcalfe has displayed bigotry, and Mike Turzai has remained silent,” said Skopov in a press release. “Mike Turzai either supports homophobia and bigotry or he doesn’t. If he refuses to strip Metcalfe of his chairmanship, everyone will know exactly where he stands.”