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Corbett Compares Gay Marriage to Incest (With Video)

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 CBS21 gay marriage
Corbett smiles after his controversial remark

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.”

22 Responses

  1. Just moved back to PA from MD. What a difference. Gov O’Malley is leading that state forward. Gov. Corbett is leading this state absolutely nowhere. Such a disappointment. Know who I will not be voting to retain.

  2. Dear Anonymous,
    One correction to your report: there is only one ‘t’ in Scarnati.

  3. Eric Bradway Former Lower Merion Constable Is Running for Governor on the Democratic Ticket against One Term Tommy

  4. Last week both Scarnatti and Peleggi, among others, have had telephone conversations with Corbett about “the problem.” The governor has agreed that he will give “no more interviews — none” and will communicate solely through staff and press releases. He’s also onboard to immediately begin an intensive series of tutoring lessons to learn how to present himself and to respond effectively to questions. I’m optimistic.

  5. He later apologized by saying that he is not used to speaking like a politician, he was speaking like a lawyer. So in his apology he also managed to offend pols and attorneys too. In his mind I guess pols are liars and lawyers are apparently idiots.

  6. I swear, this Governor is trying his best to give every person in this state their own personal reason to dislike him.

  7. It’s time to call on Governor Corbett to resign. He is unfit for office and has demonstrated time and time again that he is unable or unwilling to unbiasly serve the needs of all the diverse citzens of the commonwealth.

  8. As bad as it is what he said and insinuated, his tone and the body language used is even worse. How did this guy ever get elected to statewide office in the first place?

  9. Incest is best.

    …. when it comes to Corbett demonstrating why he shouldn’t be governor.

  10. I doubt that Corbett was suggesting a literal equivalency. Rather, he seems to be making both a legal and a moral comparison. Just as bad, however. On the law, the analogy is badly formed and trivial. On the moral point, Corbett is insensitive to the point of ignorance.
    I have to agree with the comment of James G.: “When you’re Governor, no one challenges you. Intellectually, you become lazy, arrogant, impatient and insulting. In Corbett’s case, it has reinforced his less attractive qualities and he now comes across as just plain stupid and bigoted.”

  11. @am: Don’t forget his comments about the unemployed – too lazy to look for work and on drugs anyway.

  12. Obviously he wasn’t saying gay marriage is like incest. The media is stretching here to make a story.

  13. I’m sorry- I believe he was i “inferring” -between the lines so to speak. Corbett is that smug and knows he will get away with it.

  14. The good news is there are a lot of Republican / Tea Party candidates up for reelection in 2014 and Tom Corbett is at the top of the ticket.

  15. Come on…you have to know that he was referencing another category of individuals that can not obtain marriage licenses in PA….he was not inferring that same sex couples relationships are incestuous.

  16. Thanks Basile and Reason – here’s the deal: if you are explaining, you are losing. It is that simple.

  17. Enough with this guy… awesome post…..May I add children learning in poverty and school districts in poverty areas….. After school programs have become extinct as well as art, music, Dare to Excel, and many more. I am so thankful my children’s teacher are willing to stay after school, although how about the parent in poverty that cannot arrange transportation? I can go on and on….I’ll get off the soap box.

  18. Did he compare homosexual marriage to incest by implying that gay marriage was incestuous? Or did he just make a legal comparison saying that homosexual couples cannot get married similar to siblings not being able to marry, therefore making the argument a non sequitur.

    Distasteful or not, it seems like the media is bending over backwards to demonize the guy.

  19. What constituency is left that he has not seriously offended?
    – Sports Fans/Parents – For dragging his feet on the Sandusky investigation while AG and kids continue to be molested.
    – Women – “Just close your eyes” on those transvaginal ultrasounds.
    – Environmentalists – Drilling accidents that contaminate water are treated as conspiracy theories.
    – Homeowners – When he was ok with forced pooling and not looking into them getting their fair share of royalties.
    – General Citizenry – Those that continue to risk their lives on PA’s crumbling bridges because virtually nothing of note was handled prior to this year’s budget.
    – Average Joes that need affordable healthcare – By all means, do not cooperate with the feds on the ACA with a customized system for PA or take Medicare funding.
    – Gays & Lesbians – No equality on the horizon because he practically deems them subhuman.

    You gotta feel bad for that new communications hire.

    So, who is left to re-elect him?

  20. I’ve known the Governor for many years. He has always been a bit stubborn and proud, and overly impressed with his own thought process, but in the last few years his vanity has gotten worse.
    I saw the same thing happen to Thornburgh. When you’re Governor, no one challenges you. Intellectually, you become lazy, arrogant, impatient and insulting. In Corbett’s case, it has reinforced his less attractive qualities and he now comes across as just plain stupid and bigoted.

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