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Did UK’s Secretary of Defense Compare Gay Marriage to Incest?

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Thursday Jan 31, 2013
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The United Kingdom’s conservative Secretary of Defense has been accused of comparing same-sex marriage to incest the British newspaper the Guardian reports.

Philip Hammond, who has stated he opposes Prime Minister David Cameron’s plans to legalize same-sex marriage in the U.K., has made headlines this week after he allegedly made the remarks to two students at Royal Holloway University in London on Friday.

The accusations came to light from Pink News, an LGBT news site based in the U.K., which reported that when the students asked him why incest and gay marriage were equivalent, he told them that it was like two siblings entering wedlock.

A spokesman for Hammond denied the story. Joe Rayment, 21, one of the students who talked with the defense secretary, however, told the Guardian that, while the defense secretary didn’t actually use the word "incest," he did bring the issue up when he was questioned why he was against marriage equality.

"When I asked Philip Hammond what right the state has to tell two people in love that they can’t get married, he said: ’Well, siblings can’t get married either’. We found this a very offensive and quite disgusting thing for him to say," Rayment told the paper. According to Rayment, Hammond offered to meet with him and Jack Saffery-Rowe, a 19-year-old student, after he learned that they were going to protest during his visit to the college.

"We asked him to go outside and face the protestors and tell the gay protestors outside that he didn’t think they should be allowed to get married. He said he wouldn’t play silly games with us," Rayment told the Guardian. "I asked him to tell Jack, who is gay, that he doesn’t believe Jack should be able to get married. He didn’t because he won’t face the reality of his opposition to it."

The student said the politician was "very slippery in the meeting" and that he "avoided any of our arguments" when they asked him challenging questions.

Hammond’s comments come just days after the British government published the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, which would legalize gay marriage and exclude Church of England from having to perform the ceremonies. Lawmakers are set to vote on the measure next month.

This isn’t the first time a politician has linked same-sex marriage to incest. Here in the U.S., former Republican Senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum equated the two issues in a 2003 interview with the Associated Press.

"If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery," he said. "You have the right to anything." and "Whether it’s polygamy, whether it’s adultery, whether it’s sodomy, all of those things, are antithetical to a healthy, stable, traditional family."

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