Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) likened gay marriage to incest between siblings Friday during an appearance on a morning news show in Harrisburg.
The remark went viral and Democrats running to challenge Corbett in 2014 criticized the governor.
The governor was speaking about same-sex marriage on WHP-TV when one of the anchors asked about a statement administration lawyers had made in a court filing, comparing the marriage of gay couples to the marriage of children because neither can legally marry in the state.
“It was an inappropriate analogy, you know,” Corbett said, according to the Associated Press. “I think a much better analogy would have been brother and sister, don’t you?”
The question related to a legal brief the administration had filed in a case to force the register of wills in Montgomery County to stop issuing marriage licenses to couples of the same sex, in violation of the state law that defines matrimony as a union between one man and one woman.
Corbett also said he did not believe a separate federal lawsuit seeking to overturn that marriage statute belongs in court.
"The Supreme Court left it up to the states to determine under their laws as to what is and isn't a marriage," Corbett said. "The federal court shouldn't even be involved in this. But if they say they are, then they're going to make a determination whether the state has the right to determine that a marriage is only between a man and a woman and not between two individuals of the same sex."
It was the latest in a series of gubernatorial gaffes, including comments that said many people would rather stay on unemployment than take available jobs, and blaming part of the state's unemployment rate on would-be workers unable to pass drug-screening tests.
U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, a leading candidate for the Democratic nomination to challenge Corbett, immediately blasted his marriage analogy in a statement.
“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," Schwartz said. "The Governor should immediately apologize for his latest offensive comments."
Tom Wolf, the York County businessman and former state revenue secretary who also is seeking the Democratic nomination, said that Corbett's analogy was "hateful and demeaning," adding that the governor should apologize immediately.