The state’s highest ranking openly gay official called Gov. Corbett’s remarks on gay marriage “very sad” and his apology half-hearted.
Terry Mutchler, executive director of the Office of Open Records, in her first public speech since Corbett's controversial comments were broadcast last week, said Monday it was a "human rights issue" that she could not ignore.
"I find it sad that a Governor – with a team of intelligent, thoughtful staff around him some of whom are gay – has such a basic misunderstanding and more distressing – an overt meanness – about any issue – let alone a human rights issue," she told a group of archivists at their annual meeting at the State Museum.
In the television interview that aired Friday, Corbett compared same-sex marriage as equivalent under the law to the marriage of brothers and sisters, touching off fresh debate on gay unions in the state.
He later issued a statement apologizing to anyone who was offended and said he was “thinking with his legal head” when he spoke.
When asked to respond to Mutchler's remarks Monday, Corbett spokesman Jay Pagni said "the governor's apology was sincere."
Mutchler's speech topic was the state's open records law, but she said she felt compelled to go off topic and address the controversial issue that hit close to home.
“I have bit my lip in the past,” said Mutchler, noting she held off when Corbett said women could “just close your eyes” if the state required them to receive ultrasounds before getting an abortion.
Nor did she speak up, she said, after Corbett’s attorneys in court documents in the suit over Montgomery County's issuing of marriage licenses to gay couples, likened gay marriage to children marrying.
Mutchler said Corbett has a right to his views but that as the leader of the Commonwealth he has a responsibility to unite citizens, "not further inflame the issue."
"There is no easy way out of the forest on gay marriage," said Mutchler. "I personally believe the governor needs to help us get through it not add fuel to the fire."
Mutchler was appointed by Gov. Rendell in 2008 as the state's first director of the Office of Open Records. Her six-year term ends next year.
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