Harrisburg, Dauphin County -- In a television interview broadcast Friday morning on WHP News 21 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett was asked about a controversial comment made by a member of his legal team comparing gay marriage to the marriage of 12-year-olds. "It was an inappropriate analogy, you know. I think a much better analogy would have been brother and sister, don't you?" The governor's controversial response caught the interviewer off-guard and set off an almost immediate public backlash. "To have a governor I guess be that candid it was quite shocking," said Wilkes University Associate Professor of Political Science Kyle Kreider. While he and many others find the comments shocking, not everyone is startled. "I wasn't really surprised. The governor has continually been off the mark in discussing marriage equality," said NEPA Rainbow Alliance Executive Director John Dawe. By comparing gay marriage to an incestuous situation, Mr. Dawe says the governor deeply offended tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. "It's demeaning, it's insulting to LGBT individuals, LGBT families and especially LGBT partners."
Hours after his televised comments, Gov. Corbett issued a written statement that read in part, "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 response also read, quote, "My words were not intended to offend anyone. If they did, I apologize." Mr. Dawe considers the apology insincere. "It's pretty transparent that someone is telling him you better apologize for this or it's going to hurt you politically."
Gov. Corbett went before a camera again Friday, this time courtesy of an afternoon governor's feed to both apologize and explain his earlier remarks. "I apologize to anybody who feels offended by that. I know this is an issue for the courts or the legislature to make a determination." Just how much the controversy hurts Governor Corbett's reelection bid remains to be seen, but analysts say it can't help. "He has very low approval ratings, very high disapproval ratings so I would say that this probably cannot help his electoral chances. It makes him look extreme," said Dr. Kreider who added that one thing about the comments that may not harm Gov. Corbett quite as much is that he made them 13 months before the Pennsylvania Governor election. Dr. Krieder also said what will ultimately hurt Gov. Corbett politically is that history will one day find him on the wrong side of the gay marriage rights issue.