Openly gay Pa. Rep. Brian Sims, D-Philadelphia, was blocked from talking about the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act Wednesday on the floor of the Pennsylvania House.
During the House session, there is a period where legislators are allowed to speak about a number of different topics. The catch is that it’s done under “unanimous consent”, meaning that it only takes one legislator to shut the speaker down. In this case, Rep. Daryl Metcalfe was one of those people. Normally stuff like this happens all the time in the world of political posturing and maneuvering, and people generally don’t pay attention to it. This time was an exception, however, when Metcalfe explained why he prevented Sims from speaking:
“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,” said Metcalfe, R-Butler.
Oh … well … okay. As long as you have a legitimate, logical reason to not let the man speak about the importance of the Prop. 8 and DOMA rulings and how they would affect the state of Pennsylvania. How this even begins to qualify as a reasonable justification for objecting is beyond me, since it has nothing to do with the law or the state or federal constitution, but a blind adherence to a God that has no business being invoked in a place where the laws are being made for a state within a secular nation.
He later elaborated on the effect it would have on the innocent citizens of the 12th legislative district:
He said the comments Sims would have made about the high court’s decisions would have been “ultimately offensive to the majority of my constituents, and myself.”
God forbid we should offend the delicate sensibilities of a handful of people in rural western Pennsylvania by having a democratically elected lawmaker briefly speak about the importance of the Supreme Court rulings that take us one step further toward allowing same sex couples to be given equal treatment under the law.
I keep thinking that if you’re the kind of person who finds such things offensive – and the first thing you do in response to hearing it is to invoke the
Christian Old Testament God as an excuse, you and the people you represent are part of the problem.
Thankfully, it worked out in the end. Despite the lost opportunity to speak, plenty of Sims’ fellow lawmakers on both sides of the aisle spoke with him afterward and showed support.
“Honestly, on the floor, it did not seem like it was that big of a deal. A lot of members went up and spoke with Representative Sims afterwards,” Miskin pointed out. “There was a lot of discourse. Between both sides of the aisle.”
Sims, one of two openly gay members of the house, said that Republicans approached him afterward to apologize. Sims said that he will remember the moment, not for being silenced, but for the support offered from his colleagues in the Legislature.
As I said earlier, this apparently happens a lot. It’s not the parliamentary maneuvering that bothers me, since I’m sure it goes both ways. However, for Metcalfe to remove his consent because Sims was going to make comments that were in “open rebellion to God’s law” shows the residents of the state of Pennsylvania and the rest of the country that it’s the will of his God, not the state or federal constitution, that drives his decisions as he helps make laws for all of the citizens of his state … even those who don’t believe as he does. I guess they’re just out of luck.