A committee meeting in Pennsylvania's Capitol was briefly derailed by a Republican representative who asked a male colleague to stop touching him and suggested that the Democrat might be gay.
A video of Tuesday's meeting in Harrisburg showed Rep. Matt Bradford, of Montgomery County, place his hand on Rep. Daryl Metcalfe’s forearm while speaking to the room about a rural roads bill that was under debate.
Metcalfe responded: "Representative Bradford just, look, I'm a heterosexual. I have a wife, and I love my wife. I don't like men, as you might, but stop touching me all the time."
Metcalfe, who is serving his 10th term in office and is also the committee chair, went on to say if Bradford wanted to touch someone, "you have people on your side of the aisle that might like it. I don't."
A visibly stunned Bradford, along with others in the room, laughed and said the meeting was "officially off the rails."
"My intent was just to beg for your permission for about 30 seconds," Bradford said.
"Then beg, don’t touch," responded Metcalfe.
Bradford continued to laugh before deciding to end the meeting.
"I don't know where we go from here, really," Bradford said.
During an interview after the incident, Metcalfe claimed Bradford had continually reached out and touched him for months and that he had asked him to stop before.
"He's been told in the past to knock it off and yesterday I said what I said to draw attention to it," Metcalfe said. "It drew a little more attention than I expected."
Bradford, who is married to a woman and has four children, according to his online biography, said he only reached out to touch him to "restrain him" so that he could finish his thought and that he was not "making a pass" at Metcalfe.
"Yesterday's rant by Mr. Metcalfe was stunning and then degenerated into something far more appalling," Bradford said in an email to NBC10. "Mr. Metcalfe has a long history of extreme behavior and anti-gay rhetoric. Sadly, this is not the first time Mr. Metcalfe has demonstrated such animus. Yesterday was merely a new low in the State Government Committee triggered by a rather innocuous attempt to extend debate on an otherwise non-controversial piece of legislation."
While Metcalfe’s comments sparked laughter during the meeting, many Pennsylvania Democrats were not amused. The party accused Metcalfe of being homophobic, as well as racist, and have called for his resignation.
"State Representative Daryl Metcalfe has always been a problem in Harrisburg," the Pennsylvania Democratic Party said in a statement. "He has invited white supremacists to the capitol to testify on behalf of his positions, defended white nationalists, and refused to condemn racist violence. The Pennsylvania Democratic Party has previously called upon Metcalfe to resign over his repeated racism."
Metcalfe said he has no plans to step down.
NBC affiliate WPXI reached Metcalfe by phone Wednesday. The 55-year-old, who has represented Pennsylvania’s 12th district in the western part of the state since 1999, said he is surprised the video is getting so much attention.
He claimed Bradford has been touching him "inappropriately" for months and that he recently asked Bradford to stop. After Bradford touched him again on Tuesday, Metcalfe said he wanted to say something different to draw attention to Bradford's behavior.
"Matt Bradford is continually reaching out and touching me on the arm and shoulder," Metcalfe said in a separate interview. "I think trying to use his body language to convey that he's really the voice of reason even though he proffers some really radical ideas that are not embraced by the majority of the committee."
"I think it's something he's been doing on purpose and with his own purpose and yesterday I said what I said with purpose to shine light on the fact that he's acting badly."
Bradford said he doesn't remember Metcalfe ever previously telling him to not touch him but also said, "This is not the first time the chairman has gone off."
In 2015, Metcalfe sparked controversy when he claimed that "a white nationalist … is a lot different than a white supremacist," according to the Post-Gazette. His detractors have also criticized him for his opposition to same-sex marriage.
"In addition to being racist, Metcalfe is homophobic," Pennsylvania Democrats wrote in their statement Tuesday. "He has silenced gay lawmakers, held up non-discrimination laws and, just today, went on a random homophobic tirade directed at one of his colleagues."
Brandon Cwalina, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, also called on Metcalfe to resign.
"Enough is enough. Daryl Metcalfe is a walking, talking embarrassment to Pennsylvanians and doesn’t deserve the honor of serving in public office," Cwalina said. "For years Metcalfe has taken policy positions based on bigoted misconceptions and fear of minority groups and the LGBT community, but today he has gone beyond the pale. We are again calling on Daryl Metcalfe to resign and to apologize to all Pennsylvanians for his ridiculously bigoted behavior."