Veteran actor Jeremy Irons has penned an open letter to fans to clear up controversy surrounding recent comments he made about gay marriage in his native U.K., insisting his remarks have been misconstrued.
Irons sparked outrage last Wednesday after a headline-grabbing video interview with the Huffington Post, in which he claimed introducing a law allowing same-sex couples to officially wed in Britain could lead to fathers marrying their sons in a bid to avoid the country's heavy inheritance tax duties.
He told the interviewer, "Could a father not marry his son? It seems to me that now they're fighting for the name. I worry that it means somehow we debase, or we change, what marriage is. I just worry about that."
He then added, "I don't have a strong feeling either way. Living with another animal, whether it be a husband or a dog, is great. It's lovely to have someone to love."
His remarks angered some gay rights campaigners and prompted openly-homosexual actor Alan Cumming to tweet, "I hate when people say they don't have strong feelings about something then proceed to spew offensive and ignorant ones. Jeremy Irons."
However, Irons says his comments have been misinterpreted and has now attempted to clarify his statements with a post on his official website.
He writes, "I am deeply concerned that from my on line discussion with the Huffington Post, it has been understood that I hold a position that is anti gay. This is as far from the truth of me as to say that I believe the earth is flat.
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"I was taking part in a short discussion around the practical meaning of Marriage, and how that institution might be altered by it becoming available to same-sex partners. Perhaps rather too flippantly I flew the kite of an example of the legal quagmire that might occur if same sex marriage entered the statute books, by raising the possibility of future marriage between same sex family members for tax reasons... Clearly this was a mischievous argument, but nonetheless valid.
"I am clearly aware that many gay relationships are more long term, responsible and even healthier in their role of raising children, than their hetero equivalents, and that love often creates the desire to mark itself in a formal way, as Marriage would do. Clearly society should find a way of doing this.
"I had hoped that even on such a subject as this, where passions run high, the internet was a forum where ideas could be freely discussed without descending into name-calling. I believe that is what it could be, but it depends on all of us behaving, even behind our aliases, in a humane, intelligent and open way."