North Carolina House Majority Leader Paul “Skip” Stam on Tuesday likened gay marriage to incest and polygamy.

The 61-year-old Stam made his remarks during a noontime press conference on a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage in the state. Lawmakers will return to Raleigh on September 12 to begin a special session on constitutional amendments which will consider whether to send three issues to the ballot box in 2012.

When asked by a reporter whether the amendment was “a reach of government into the individuals' lives?” Stam answered: “Well 90 percent of all laws affect people's lives, so that's an argument without any content to it. … We prohibit adult incest, we prohibit polygamy. What would be their answer to that? We're involved in people's lives. That's a slogan without analysis.”

“What I'm saying is,” Stam went on to explain, “you cannot construct an argument for same sex-marriage that would not also justify philosophically the legalization of polygamy and adult incest.” (The audio is embedded in the right panel of this page.)

Stam later suggested that being gay was a choice.

When asked how the ban would differ from miscegenation laws, Stam answered: “People can't change their race. They can't chose their race. And there was no biological basis for it to start with, whereas ...”

“People can chose their sexual orientation?” a reporter asked.

“I don't, you know, some do, some don't,” he responded.

Standing besides Stam at the news conference was House Speaker Pro Tempore Dale Folwell.

Folwell and Stam, both Republicans, also denied that the Senate's version of the measure, which explicitly bans other unions in addition to marriage, would outlaw domestic partner benefits currently offered by private sector employers.