07/04/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Mississippi Legalizes Same-Dad Marriage

Jackson, Mississippi - The Mississippi legislature today approved a hotly contested piece of legislation that legalizes marriage between two people with the same father. Governor Haley Barbour signed the legislation late this afternoon, making Mississippi the first state to legalize marriage between a brother and sister.

"This is about equality, and this is about progress, in a way," Mr. Barbour said after signing the bill. "Not in terms of evolution, maybe, but progress nonetheless. A brother and a sister who love one another and want to form a committed relationship, they should have the opportunities and benefits that are granted to everybody else. It's not their fault they fell in love with the person who grew up down the hall from them."

The legislation explicitly forbids marriage between two siblings of the same sex. Governor Barbour said that would have been taking the bill too far.

"Marriage, in my view, is a sacred sacrament between a man and a woman," he said. "Not a man and a man, or a woman and a woman. A man and a woman, who may or may not be related."

Asked if he thinks married couples who are also related will face added difficulty in their marriages, Barbour said, "Difficulty? No. If anything, I think it'll be easier for them. Think about how much they have in common already."