State rep speaks out against LGBT-inclusive birth certificates

*This story has been updated to include a comment from J.J. Abbott, a spokesperson for Gov. Tom Wolf.

An anti-LGBT state representative this week spoke out against Pennsylvania’s recent policy on designating “parent/parent” rather than “mother/father” issued on birth certificates.

State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler) sent a letter to Gov. Tom Wolf requesting him to direct the Department of Health to rescind changes to the form, adding that it is in “violation of the PA Code, Title 28, Chapter 1. Administration of Vital Records.”

Metcalfe, who serves as majority chairman for the House State Government Committee, also questioned Wolf’s transparency.

“This first came to my attention in September 2017,” Metcalfe wrote. “The initial response I received from the Department of Health stated that the changes were made as a result of a negotiated settlement with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). I requested documentation about the same.

“After I made the follow-up request, the Bureau of Vital Records then stated there was no lawsuit, but rather simply that they anticipated a lawsuit and initiated this change on their own accord. After discussing this issue with the appropriate staff, the request was made, on my behalf, that documentation be provided to demonstrate that the necessary notice and publication requirements were met, as well as providing the authority under which the Bureau of Vital Records made this change without action by the General Assembly.”

Metcalfe further contended that he did not receive any documentation from the Department of Health or the Bureau of Vital Records on “where the authority exists for the bureau to make this change.” Additionally, he said the amendment would cost millions of dollars.

Equality Pennsylvania issued the following statement on Metcalfe and the 26 other Republicans who signed the letter:

“These lawmakers are hiding behind the ‘cost of changing the label on birth certificates’ — but you and I both know their real target is — LGBTQ Families. We also know that families with two moms and two dads deserve equal recognition under the law.”

J.J. Abbott, a spokesperson for Wolf, issued the following statement:

“The Department of Health updated birth certificates to include all families and reflect the fact that same-sex marriage is the law of the land in Pennsylvania. Governor Wolf continues to support making government more respectful of all families and will continue to ensure state government treats all families with the dignity that they deserve.”

Metcalfe could not be reached for comment.

Other Republicans who signed the letter  were Matt Baker, Stephen Bloom, Bryan Cutler, Russ Diamond, Cris Dush, Brian Ellis, Garth Everett, Seth Grove, Kristin Hill, Rob Kauffman, Dawn Keefer, Jerry Knowles, John McGinnis, Brett Miller, Tedd Nesbit, Jack Rader Jr., Kathy Rapp, Brad Roae, Frank Ryan, Rick Saccone, Tommy Sankey, Will Tallman, Judy Ward, Ryan Warner, Parke Wentling and Jeff Wheeland.

Metcalfe has repeatedly stalled passage of the state’s Fairness Act, which was referred to his committee. The act would add LGBTpeople to classes protected from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations.

Rep. Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny County) reintroduced the legislation last year and encouraged House Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny County) to send the bill to a different committee so it could have a fair hearing. It was referred to Metcalfe’s committee in June and has yet to receive a vote.

Metcalfe also went on a homophobic tirade during a committee meeting last month. State Rep. Matt Bradford (D-Montgomery County) briefly touched Metcalfe on the arm in what the former said was a plea for more time to discuss a vote related to eminent domain and roads. Metcalfe responded with insinuations about Bradford, who is married to a woman with four kids.

“I’m a heterosexual,” Metcalfe responded after Bradford touched his arm. “I have a wife. I love my wife. I don’t like men, as you might, so stop touching me all the time. Keep your hands to yourself. If you want to touch somebody, you have people on your side of the aisle that might like it. I don’t.” 

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