A member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives drew criticism from fellow lawmakers and anger from the LGBT and ally communities last week after he spoke against a resolution that sought to raise awareness about domestic violence.
Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-12th Dist.), who represents Cranberry Township near Pittsburgh, was the only member of the House who objected to a resolution Sept. 17 that would deem October as Domestic-Violence Awareness Month, saying the inclusion of male victims in rape statistics outlined in the resolution was evidence of a “homosexual agenda.”
The language Metcalfe took issue with was: “One in six women and one in 33 men have experienced an attempted or completed rape.”
Metcalfe also raised concerns about the use of the words “intimate partner” and about statistics that included the number of male victims of physical assault, said the resolution’s lead sponsor, Rep. John Siptroth (D-189th Dist.).
Metcalfe did not respond to repeated requests from PGN for comment. He told the Philadelphia Inquirer last week, however, that he opposed the resolution because “it had language woven through it that brought men into the situation” and he doesn’t “support the resolution or funding for groups that go beyond helping women.”
Keystone Progress, headquartered in Harrisburg, has launched a campaign seeking an apology from Metcalfe.
When asked by the Inquirer what he would say to Keystone executive director Michael Morrill about a potential apology, Metcalfe said, “Tell him, don’t hold his breath.”
Siptroth introduced the 333-word resolution as a “noncontroversial resolution,” meaning that the document could be directly voted on by the full House without having to first go through a committee.
The lawmaker said he has seen some noncontroversial resolutions that have faced opposition during a vote, but that those are “very few and far between.”
Per House procedure, the resolution has now been sent to the Rules Committee, which will vote on it and send it back to the full House for a regular vote.
Siptroth said he’s introduced resolutions with similar language recognizing Domestic-Violence Awareness Month for the past two years — both of which Metcalfe voted for — and that they’ve been for no other purpose than to simply raise awareness about the issue of domestic violence.
“It is just an awareness thing — that’s all this amounted to,” he said. “So that we keep lawmakers aware of abuse of individuals and also so individuals who have been abused will come out and seek either emotional or physical help. That’s the intent of this and has always been the intent.”
Siptroth said that, while he has “nothing at all against [the LGBT community]” and has “always supported the rights of all individuals,” he had no plans to further the “homosexual agenda” with the resolution.
“It’s simply that there are individuals of both sexes who certainly have been abused both mentally and physically through domestic violence and that’s what this is all about.”
Rep. Mike O’Brien (D-175th Dist.) said Metcalfe’s objections were met with disbelief from most of his fellow lawmakers.
“Literally, there was a collective gasp from the floor when he spoke,” O’Brien said. “You sit there and you’re going along, voting on resolutions, actually only giving it half an ear because we’ve all looked at these on the calendar before we get to the floor, and then he gets up and says this nonsense and it’s like being hit in the head with a sledgehammer. It was just like, ‘What the hell did he just say?’”
O’Brien, who referred to Metcalfe as the “wicked witch of the West,” noted that last session Metcalfe also derailed a noncontroversial resolution that sought to recognize the 60th-annual convention of the U.S. chapter of a Muslim group because he said “Muslims do not recognize Jesus Christ as God.”
“Rep. Metcalfe represents the worst of the far-right-wing reactionary part of the Republican Party. His actions are an affront to not only the Pennsylvania General Assembly but to the entire population of the commonwealth,” he said. “Does the LGBT community deserve an apology? Yes. Do Muslims deserve an apology? Yes. Do victims of rape deserve an apology? Yes. But that’s not going to happen.”
This is not the first time that Metcalfe has taken a stand against the LGBT community.
Three years ago, he spearheaded the failed Marriage Protection Amendment, which sought to amend the state constitution to define marriage as being between one man and one woman.
At the time, Metcalfe postured that “it is beyond comprehension that in the year 2006, with all of our technological and medical advancements, and with volumes of information on the history of humanity, that there are some extremists in our society who, through activism and the courts, are attempting to redefine an aspect of natural law as it relates to marriage.”
Last week, the House voted unanimously, Metcalfe included, to approve noncontroversial resolutions designating September as Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, Alcohol Drug Addiction and Recovery Month, National Food Safety Education Month, Hunger Action Month and Emergency Preparedness Month. Other unanimously approved resolutions recognized Low-Back Pain Awareness Week, Historically Black Colleges and Universities Week, International Week of Peace, Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Research and Awareness Week, Stepfamily Day and National Hunting and Fishing Day.