This Wednesday, July 31, 2013 photo shows Gov. Tom Corbett at Dow Chemical's new research-and-development facility in Collegeville, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett on Friday compared same-sex marriage to the marriage of brothers and sisters.
The Republican governor, whose approval ratings have been low and who is up for reelection next year, made the comments during an interview with WHP-TV in Harrisburg, after being asked about a controversial statement his lawyers had made over the summer on gay marriage.
During the interview, Corbett called “inappropriate” his attorneys’ statement in an August court filing. In the filing, the attorneys wrote that gay marriage is against Pennsylvania law, just as marriage is between children.
The governor then told the news station that he thought “a much better analogy would have been brother and sister, don’t you?”
In a statement, Corbett said his remarks were not intended to offend anyone, and apologized if they did.
“I explained that current Pennsylvania statute delineates categories of individuals unable to obtain a marriage license,” the governor said. “As an example, I cited siblings as one such category, which is clearly defined in state law. My intent was to provide an example of these categories.”
He added: “The constitutional question is now before a federal court and that is the venue in which same-sex couples wishing to legally marry have standing to intervene and be heard. Same-sex marriage is an important issue and the question of its legal status is one that will be heard and decided upon its merits, with respect and compassion shown to all sides.”
Ted Martin, executive director for the advocacy group Equality PA, called Corbett’s comments “shocking and hurtful.”
“We invite him to participate in a conversation with same-sex couples to talk about why marriage matters to all Pennsylvania families,” said Martin, whose group advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Pennsylvanians.
Democrats seeking their party’s nomination to challenge Corbett in 2014 also denounced the governor’s views.
“Gov. Corbett’s continued hateful rhetoric regarding same-sex marriage is unacceptable and an insult to thousands of gay and lesbian Pennsylvanians who simply want equality,” U.S. Rep. Allyson Y. Schwartz said in a statement.
“Gov. Corbett’s remarks comparing marriage equality to marriage between siblings is hateful and demeaning,” York, Pa., businessman Tom Wolf said in a separate statement.
Added onetime state Environmental Protection Secretary Katie McGinty: “Tom Corbett owes an apology to the people of Pennsylvania. He has a history of making demeaning and insulting remarks towards Pennsylvanians of all walks of life, but even for Tom Corbett today’s remark is shockingly offensive. It’s more proof we need a new governor who respects every Pennsylvanian.”
The governor’s comments came just days after two state legislators, Democratic Reps. Steve McCarter and Brian Sims of Philadelphia, introduced a bill to permit same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania. And Montgomery County, Pa., earlier this week appealed a state court order to stop issuing same-sex marriage licenses.
©2013 The Philadelphia Inquirer
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