Target: Pennsylvania House Ethics Committee Chair Scott A. Petri
Goal: Obtain an official reprimand of Representative Metcalfe for his unjustified and unconscionable violation of Representative Sims’ right to speak about marriage equality
Pennsylvania State Representative Brian Sims wished to comment on the Supreme Court’s two historic rulings on the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8. Representative Sims, the first openly gay man elected to the Pennsylvania General Assembly, wished to comment on the Supreme Court’s rulings, but was blocked by several representatives by a procedural maneuver. One of those representatives was Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, who explained in a news interview that he silenced his colleague because of his pro-LGBT viewpoints. Rep. Metcalfe stated: “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.”
Two of Representative Sims’ Democratic colleagues tried to speak up in support of him, but they too were silenced. When finally allowed to speak, Representative Sims declared, “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.” The House determined that Representative Metcalfe could not be censured for his comments made outside the House, and Representative Sims has stated that he has no intention of pursuing the matter with the Ethics Committee.
The actions of Representative Metcalfe and his cohorts are deplorable, and contrary to the basic principles of this nation. The United States Constitution is the highest law of the nation, and the Pennsylvania Constitution the highest law in that state. Both guarantee freedom of speech and conscience, and prohibit the governments they establish from favoring or infringing upon the practice or belief of any faith. As Rep. Sims himself said, “[W]e put our hands on the Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution, not the other way around.”
Representative Metcalfe has violated his oath to uphold his state’s constitution, and has violated the rights of his colleagues. It is contrary to the letter of the law, and values inspiring our law, to use government to impose one’s private beliefs on others, especially at the expense of their rights. Representative Metcalfe has also gravely insulted his LGBT constituents and their families by calling their very existence a crime. Please add your voice to this petition to demand that the Assembly Ethics Committee censure Metcalfe for his inflammatory and utterly hateful remarks.
Dear Scott A. Petri,
Representative Daryl Metcalfe’s recent actions and remarks barring his colleagues from speaking on the Supreme Court’s recent decisions on same-sex marriage were absolutely repulsive. I find it outrageous that a state assembly in this nation would prevent a duly elected official from commenting on matters of public concern on the grounds that his expression of a certain viewpoint would be “open rebellion against the word of God”.
This is the United States, and we are a constitutional republic, not a theocracy. Your state was founded as a haven for those whose mere expression of their religious beliefs was once considered “against the word of God,” as interpreted by the Puritans and Anglicans of the colonial era, and your state’s constitution, like the Constitution of the United States, guarantees freedom of belief and speech. While Representative Metcalfe has every right to hold and express his personal faith, so too does Representative Sims. Mr. Metcalfe’s use of Assembly procedure to silence a colleague’s speech was an abuse of procedure with the sole intent and effect of impeding Rep. Sim’s remarks because of their content and viewpoint was a violation his rights of speech and belief, a hindrance of the ability of the Assembly to function as a representative forum, and a blatant expression of prejudice. I demand that Representative Metcalfe be reprimanded for his unconscionable conduct and statements.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Outsider80 via Wikimedia Commons