UPDATE: PA Gov. Corbett Apologizes for Incest Comparison

By Central Voice

PA Gov. Tom Corbett has apologized for remarks he made during a televised interview earlier today (10/4/13) in which he appeared to compare same-sex marriages to incest.

His statement following this morning’s TV broadcast:

“During a recent interview, I was asked to comment on the ruling by Judge Pellegrini that the Montgomery County Clerk of Courts did not have the power to decide the constitutionality of state laws.

“My words were not intended to offend anyone. If they did, I apologize.

“I explained that current Pennsylvania statute delineates categories of individuals unable to obtain a marriage license. 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.

”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.”

Corbett made the remark earlier today on a morning news broadcast by WHP-TV anchor Sherry Christian.

During this morning’s interview, Corbett was asked what he thought about the argument made against a county clerk who had begun issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. At the time of that challenge, the Department of Health made the analogy that those couples were just like 12-year-old children in being ineligible for marriage.

Corbett told Christian that incest would be a better comparison.

CORBETT: It was an inappropriate analogy, you know. I think a much better analogy would have been brother and sister, don’t you?

CHRISTIAN: I don’t know. I don’t know… Umm… Yeah, I’m going to leave the comments to you and your team, but you did say it was inappropriate and you have a better phrasing that you think.

Corbett also says he does not think a pending legal challenge to Pennsylvania’s ban on marriage belongs in federal court.

Corbett’s response follows yesterday’s introduction by State Reps. Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia) and Steve McCarter (D-Montgomery County) who introduced a bill that would extend marriage rights to same-sex couples in the state. State Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery County,) has also introduced his own same-sex measure in the Pennsylvania Senate in May.

Ted Martin, executive director, Equality PA, said, “Gov. Corbett’s statements are shocking and hurtful to thousands of gay and lesbian couples who are doing the hard work of building strong families all across the Commonwealth.”

Martin said, “Corbett’s comments aren’t simply offensive; they’re out of touch.” He is referring to numerous polls indicating that the majority of Pennsylvanians support allowing same-sex couples to marry. Those polls also indicate high support for same-sex marriage among Republicans.

Martin invited Corbett “to participate in a conversation with same-sex couples to talk about why marriage matters to all Pennsylvania families.”

Corbett was speaking about gay marriage on Friday morning when an anchor on WHP-TV in Harrisburg asked about a statement his lawyers made in a recent court filing, comparing the marriage of gay couples to the marriage of children because neither can legally marry in the state, The Associated Press reported.

“It was an inappropriate analogy, you know,” Corbett said. “I think a much better analogy would have been brother and sister, don’t you?”

In August, administration attorneys said in a court filing that same-sex marriages were no more valid than a marriage between two 12-year-olds because state law bans both unions.

Corbett later rejected that analogy, saying the case revolved around the question of whether a public official had “the authority to disregard state law based on his own personal legal opinion about the constitutionality of a statute,” the Associated Press reported.

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