The Republican candidate for Wisconsin lieutenant governor is apologizing for saying during a recent radio interview that gay marriage is like marrying a table, clock or a dog.
During an interview with WVCY Christian radio, Kleefisch said extending domestic partner benefits to state employees was "a slippery slope."
"In addition to that at what point are we going to be okay marrying inanimate objects? Can I marry this table or this, you know, clock? Can we marry dogs?"
"This is ridiculous," continued Kleefisch. "And biblically, again, I'm going to go right back to my fundamental Christian beliefs marriage is between one man and one woman."
Her comments ignited protests from students at the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha while she appeared at the university to give a speech.
"My comments were meant to relay my concern with redefining marriage," Kleefisch later said in a statement. "I never intended to sound insensitive, and have the utmost respect for all people. I apologize for my poor choice of words."
"We simply cannot allow our next lieutenant governor to be someone who likens the value of relationships between caring and committed same-sex couples to tables and clocks," said Katie Belanger, head of Fair Wisconsin, the state's largest gay rights group.
"Kleefisch's apology rings hollow, and can't hide how far out of the mainstream she and Scott Walker truly are," Kleefisch's opponent, Democrat Tom Nelson said in a news release. "With views this extreme it’s no wonder she doesn’t want voters to know what she believes, and I can’t think of any other reason for her repeatedly refusing to debate me."
In June, the Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld the state's ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions. The constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage was put into effect in 2006 after being approved by a statewide referendum.