Tom Corbett-Gay Marriage: Pa. governor compares gay marriage to brother-sister marriage

Pa. Governor Exchanges One Inappropriate Gay-Marriage Analogy For Another

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Oct. 4 2013 12:21 PM

Pa. Governor Exchanges One Inappropriate Gay-Marriage Analogy For Another

That's Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican facing a stiff challenge from Democrats in next year's election. He recently sat down on the set of CBS 21 News in Harrisburg for a segment on marriage equality, a hot-button issue in the Keystone State and one currently winding its way through the court system.

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

The anchor, Sherry Christian, opened by asking Corbett about a controversial statement his lawyers made in a summer court filing comparing the marriage of a gay couple to the marriage of a pair of 12-year-old children. The Republican had previously rejected the analogy, so this was something of a softball, an easy way for Corbett to reset the conversation and attempt to make his case with slightly less incendiary language.

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"It was an inappropriate analogy," Corbett responded. So far, so good. But, as you've no doubt guessed by now, he didn't stop there. "I think a much better analogy," he continued, "would have been brother and sister, don't you?" A clearly flustered Christian's response: "I'm gonna leave the comments to you and your team."

Hours after the interview aired, Corbett's team released a a classic non-apology apology that attempted to clarify the comments. "My words were not intended to offend anyone. If they did, I apologize," Corbett said in a statement claiming that he was making the comparison on legal grounds, not explicitly moral ones. His decision to bring incest into the conversation, he said, was meant to highlight the fact that "current Pennsylvania statute delineates categories of individuals unable to obtain a marriage license."

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This post has been updated.

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