Government & Politics
7:49 am
Tue October 8, 2013

Top Openly Gay State Official Denounces Corbett's Same-Sex Marriage Remarks

Pennsylvania state government's top-ranking openly gay official says she's saddened by Gov. Tom Corbett's comments about gay marriage.

"I work for a governor that, I believe, has done a great disservice to the commonwealth," said Terry Mutchler, head of the Office of Open Records, veering from her typical talking points about government transparency in a speech she gave to archivists and historians Monday.

In a television interview recorded last week, Corbett distanced himself from an analogy his lawyers made comparing gay marriage to children marrying, and said a better example was marriage between a brother and sister. He issued an apology Friday, saying he didn't mean to offend people.

Mutchler isn't the first openly gay public official to denounce Corbett's remarks. State Rep. Brian Sims, (D-Philadelphia), who was the first elected openly gay lawmaker to the state Legislature, addressed the comment in a Facebook post. "I'm not giving him or his comments all that much thought and I encourage you to do the same," wrote Sims.

"Silence may be safer in this instance but for me it is not an option," Mutchler wrote in her prepared remarks to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. "On this human rights issue, I too must add my voice to the chorus of voices on this issue."

She said Corbett's comparison of same-sex marriage to the marriage of children or siblings misses the point of the argument for gay marriage.

"I find it sad that a governor with a team of intelligent, thoughtful, and brilliant staff around him, some of whom are gay, has such a basic, fundamental misunderstanding and, quite frankly, an overt meanness on any issue, but let alone a human rights issue," Mutchler said.

In his apology, issued Friday, Corbett explained that he was only trying to illustrate other categories of people are barred from marrying under state law. His office is defending the state's ban on gay marriage in state and federal court, because the state attorney general has declined to defend it.

Mutchler said she's unconvinced by Corbett's explanation, and insistent that he did, indeed, liken gay marriage to incest, even if he used the words "brother and sister." She added that comparing same-sex couples to children or siblings misses the point of the argument for gay marriage.

"I do not speak in anger and I don't speak in frustration," Mutchler said. "I speak more with sadness that the governor made these remarks and provided a half-hearted apology."

Mutchler was appointed to serve as the Office of Open Records executive director in 2008 by Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell. Her six-year term is up in April.

"I realize I just stepped into waters that have some sharks in them," she said.