Bloomberg News

Pennsylvania Governor Corbett Compares Gay Marriages to Incest

October 04, 2013

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett compared gay marriage to incest in a televised interview.

Corbett, a 64-year-old first-term Republican, is defending Pennsylvania’s ban on same-sex unions. During an interview that aired today on WHP-TV in Harrisburg, Corbett was asked his opinion about state lawyers arguing that marriage between members of the same gender should be illegal just as marriage between children is.

“I think a much better analogy would have been brother and sister, don’t you?” he said, according to a YouTube clip distributed to the media by the Pennsylvania Democratic Party.

Corbett said in a statement after the interview aired that he didn’t intend to offend anyone. The governor said he was trying to provide an example of a category of people who can’t obtain a marriage license.

“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,” he said.

Corbett filed papers Sept. 30 seeking to dismiss a federal lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union to overturn the ban. The complaint is one of at least four lawsuits filed in the state after the U.S. Supreme Court in June struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, which denied federal benefits to married gay couples.

Legal Challenge

The ACLU sued Corbett in July on behalf of 23 plaintiffs, including 10 same-sex couples and a widow. That same month, a court official in the state’s Montgomery County began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples after Attorney General Kathleen Kane, a Democrat, called the ban unconstitutional and said she wouldn’t defend it.

Attorneys for the state argued in a court filing in August that couples who received marriage licenses cannot presume the documents were valid.

“Had the clerk issued marriage licenses to twelve-year-olds in violation of state law, would anyone seriously contend that each twelve-year-old has a legally enforceable ‘interest’ in his ‘license,’” lawyers said in the filing.

Last year, Corbett made controversial remarks related to abortion. When asked about a bill that would have mandated ultrasound examinations for pregnant women before abortions, Corbett said, “You just have to close your eyes.”

Corbett is facing a re-election bid in 2014. Only one in five registered voters said Corbett deserves re-election, according to a poll released Aug. 28 by Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster.

To contact the reporter on this story: Romy Varghese in Philadelphia at rvarghese8@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Merelman at smerelman@bloomberg.net


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