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Reps. Metcalfe, Bradford give their sides to Tuesday's explosive outburst

PA Lawmakers Forearm Touching Dispute

A Republican state lawmaker is the center of a controversy as calls for his resignation continue. The requests come after Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R, Butler County) interrupted a committee meeting when his Democratic counterpart touched him on the arm.

Metcalfe suggested Rep. Matt Bradford (D, Montgomery County) might be gay. "I am a heterosexual," Metcalfe said. "I don't like men as you might - If you want to touch somebody, there are people on your side of the aisle that might like that."

The comment is making its waves throughout the halls of the Capitol in Harrisburg, and both men are commenting nearly 24 hours after the exchange.

"He's been asked to stop [touching me] in the past and has not, it's been repeated," Metcalfe said Wednesday, defending his comments from Tuesday night's state House State Government Committee meeting. He is the Republican Chair of that committee.

"Homosexuals bring it up all the time in our culture. I wanted to make sure I sent a message strong enough since he hadn't heard me in the past, enough that he's actually paid attention to it," Metcalfe said.

He says he's asked Bradford multiple times to stop touching him in the past. Bradford, however, says he can't recall that.

"I would never want to get into Daryl's head. In fact that's probably not a place that I would feel comfortable. I don't know what would make someone make a comment like that," says Bradford.

Bradford is the Democratic Chair of that committee and regularly works with Rep. Metcalfe. Bradford says he has serious concerns about the committee's meetings, saying they are often volatile. Metcalfe has had multiple outbursts in the past, he says.

"We're talking about an accumulation of some pretty outrageous behavior and comments about minority groups, gays in particular. This is very problematic."

Metcalfe stands by his comments, adding it is an effort to raise awareness about a bigger problem.

"I think it's important for people across our nation to understand and people across our state to understand that if somebody is inappropriately touching them or if they're touching them in an unwanted way, they just have to stay so stop and they should stop."

"Let's be clear, I will never talk to or do this with Chairman Metcalfe. I think everybody would be well served [by that]," Bradford commented.

Governor Wolf called Metcalfe's comments offensive and discriminatory. Wolf's spokesman, J.J. Abbott, says the governor doesn't think Metcalfe should chair a committee that handles civil rights legislation.

If disciplinary action is given, it would come from Speaker of the House, Mike Turzai. Calls to Speaker Turzai's office went unreturned.

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