The striking down of the Defense of Marriage Act is an enormous victory for same-sex marriage. Alas, there are always several assholes out there to remind us that ignorance and homophobia are still alive and well. On Wednesday, openly gay Pennsylvania Rep. Brian Sims, a Democrat from Philadelphia, was not permitted to speak about DOMA on the floor of the Pennsylvania House. Why? Because bigots wouldn’t let him. A procedural maneuver in the PA legislature requires just one legislator to shut down such impromptu remarks and Republican Rep. Daryl Metcalfe announced:
“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,”
Yes, you read that correctly. Sims was not allowed to speak in a government building because he maybe was going to say something in violation of “God’s law.” Welcome to America! We have separation of church and state here, people. Later, Rep. Metcalfe told the AP, “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.”
Now, I am reasonably well versed in Catholicism, and I cannot say that “God’s law” is meant to be used as a way to get someone to stop talking when you don’t like what they’re saying. Ironically, Metcalfe is actually in direct violation of one of Christianity’s most important doctrines: love thy neighbor. I don’t know, maybe he missed that day of Sunday school or whatever.
Anyway, that’s all irrelevant because quite frankly, “God’s law” has no place on the floor of the Pennsylvania House. Rep. Sims agreed, saying, “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.” He continued that he had no intention of criticizing or offending anyone when he got up to speak on Wednesday, he merely wanted to comment on the importance of the DOMA decision, which seems perfectly relevant for a lawmaking body to discuss.
Many legislators, including several Republicans, approached Rep. Sims afterwards to apologize on behalf of their party. The support, not the hatred, Rep. Sims said, is what he will remember from that day. He has since asked the PA legislature to censure Rep. Metcalfe, either through the Ethics Committee or through a House resolution. Rep. Sims says he plans to do so.