Sen. Sam Brownback said Monday he meant no offense to homosexuals when he used the word "fruits" in a recent interview with Rolling Stone magazine.
In a lengthy profile titled "God's Senator," the magazine quotes the Kansas Republican as criticizing countries like Sweden that allow civil unions between same-sex couples.
"You'll know them by their fruits," Brownback said, quoting a biblical passage from Matthew.
Rolling Stone writer Jeff Sharlet said in the story, in the current issue, that Brownback appeared to be calling gay Swedes "fruits," a derogatory term for homosexuals.
After gay and lesbian advocacy groups denounced the comment, Brownback issued a statement Monday saying his quote "was in no way referring to sexual orientation."
"While this biblical passage was pertinent to our overall conversation about faith and deeds, it apparently led the writer to believe I was making a joke," said Brownback, a frequent critic of gay marriage who is pushing a constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
"I was not and would never do so with such a personal and sensitive issue," Brownback said.