Brian Sims, that openly gay Pennsylvania Democratic state Congressman—and, to be fair and honest, extreme hottie—took to the House floor last week in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision on DOMA and found that his remarks were blocked by several state lawmakers using a procedural maneuver; and when two of Sims fellow Democrats attempted to speak in support of Sims, they too were blocked.
One of those lawmakers, a conservative—of course—Republican—of course—Representative, Daryl Metcalfe, said he felt Sims’ comments were a violation of "God's law."
Yes. He did.
"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."—Daryl Metcalfe
See what he did there? He states that he should not allow someone to make comments he views as rebellion against God, so he silenced Brian Sims before even hearing what Sims was going to say. And that’s an elected official in Pennsylvania.
Sims said he had no intention of criticizing marriage equality foes, and was only going to talk about the importance of the SCOTUS ruling: "I wasn't planning on chastising anybody. I wasn't planning on discussing how far we have to come in Pennsylvania or that we really have no civil rights in Pennsylvania."
At the end of the session, Sims spoke again, this time criticizing Metcalfe and the other legislators who blocked him:
"A few months ago I reminded this House that we put our hands on the Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution, not the other way around. What I did was in no way against the law of any God. I can't call anyone a bigot, a homophobe or racist, but language used against me does not live up to the standards of this body."
Then he asked his legislative colleagues to censure Metcalfe because his comments "did not live up to the standards set by this body."
Metcalfe, as a rabid conservative who believes what he says should be heard, and he alone gets to decide what others might say on the floor of the Pennsylvania Statehouse, is standing by his words:
"For me to allow him to say things that I believe are open rebellion against God are for me to participate in his open rebellion. There's no free speech on the floor."
Welcome to Pennsylvania, where lawmakers are not entitled to Free Speech. Welcome to Pennsylvania, where members have the right under House rules to veto another member's remarks under "unanimous consent." When the openly gay, and, again, openly hot, Sims got up to speak, Metcalfe and at least one other representative withdrew their consent.
How can the people of Pennsylvania expect any work to be done, when you have lawmakers deciding for themselves who should speak? The only way to move forward, to come to any kind of understanding, is through conversation and dialogue, and letting people speak.
Even in Pennsylvania.
Sims, to his credit, is also not backing down. Under the advice from House Speaker, and Republican, Sam Smith, Sims will use the proper procedure to censure Metcalfe by going through the Ethics Committee or seeking a House resolution.
Sims has said he will pursue the censure: "This is a guy who hates women, he hates gay people, he hates minorities and he hates immigrants."
And then, so, so not backing down, last Thursday Brian Sims and fellow Democratic Representative Steve McCarter introduced a bill to legalize same-sex marriages in the state:
"LGBT Pennsylvanians are seeing their neighbors in New York, Maryland and Delaware, among other states, now qualify for the approximately 1,000 federal rights and benefits that come with civil marriage and they are increasingly asking why they don't have those same rights, as well as the state rights and benefits."
That’s what Pennsylvania needs. A congressman who stands firm, who will not fall in the face of bigoted statements from a colleague who cites God’s laws in an American statehouse. We are not a country of God’s laws, we are a country of man’s laws, and Daryl Metcalfe, like so many others, will soon find himself foot-stomping and head-snapping when marriage equality comes to pass.
Because it will.
Even in Pennsylvania.