Tom Corbett put himself at the center of controversy Friday morning when he compared same-sex unions to a relationship between brother and sister.
Sherry Christian of CBS21 in Harrisburg asked the Governor about a legal brief filed by lawyers for his administration in August. It compared the validity of marriage licenses obtained by same sex couples in Pa. to hypothetical licenses given to a pair of 12-year olds.
Corbett reiterated his previous stance by calling the analogy inappropriate. But he proceeded to make even an even more direct remark.
“I think a much better analogy would have been brother and sister, don’t you?”
The interviewer paused awkwardly before responding, “I don’t know. I’m gonna leave the comments to you and your team.”
The Pa. Democratic Party quickly posted the video above, which shows the exchange.
Gay rights advocates bristled at being equated to minors in the August brief, while administration attorneys insisted the comparison pertained only to their legal status.
Although rhetorically clunky, that legal argument ultimately carried the day in court.
This week state Rep. Brian Sims (D-Phila), who is openly gay, introduced a bill to legalize gay marriage in Pa. Rep. Steve McCarter (D-Montco) was the other lead sponsor.
Update: Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz (D-Montco) was the first of the Democrats running to unseat Corbett in 2014 to comment on the remarks.
“Governor 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. The Governor should immediately apologize for his latest offensive comments,” she said.
Update 2: Corbett apologized for the remarks later Friday morning, saying he meant to compare the legal status of same-sex couples to sibling couples. He did not make the distinction clear in the interview.
“My words were not intended to offend anyone. If they did, I apologize,” Corbett said in a statement. He reiterated the sentiment in a video.
“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.”
He continued, “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.”