By Laura McQuillan / 3 News online staff
A former MP's "apartheid" analogy about gay marriage has left some MPs outraged.
Former United Future MP Gordon Copeland gave a submission against the Marriage Amendment Bill today, telling parliament's government and administration select committee marriage has had the same definition "since the beginning of the human race".
Because a same-sex union is "different", Mr Copeland believes the word "marriage" cannot be applied to it.
"In the English language, when two things are different, they are always given different names," he said.
Mr Copeland said the concept of "gay marriage" reminded him of when the apartheid-era South African government invited Maori rugby players to accompany the All Blacks as "honorary whites".
"That suggestion was repugnant to New Zealanders because it debased Maori in pursuit of a thoroughly unreasonable political agenda," Mr Copeland said.
"We put it to you that in proposing that same-sex unions be called `marriage', when they're clearly not marital, this bill debases marriage which is our precious and our most important institution in pursuit, again, of a thoroughly unreasonable political agenda."
Mr Copeland stood for the Conservative Party at the 2011 election, receiving 3.17 percent of the electorate vote.
United Future leader Peter Dunne says he was glad when Mr Copeland left the party in 2007.
"This guy is a serial nutter," he wrote on his Twitter page. "UnitedFuture completely dissociates itself from Copeland's comments - he is now a member of the Conservative Party."
Labour MP Charles Chauvel said Mr Copeland's suggestion that because gay couples are "fundamentally different" to straight couples they "should have a status that should be equal but different to that marriage" was akin to the concept of apartheid.
Mr Copeland disagreed.
"Apartheid was to do with race so it's not a parallel situation and, of course, it was completely and utterly wrong," he said.
"I mentioned apartheid in the context of a government trying to describe two things which were different as the same."
Both Mr Chauvel and the select committee's chairwoman, Labour MP Ruth Dyson, challenged Mr Copeland to consider how his comments might make gay New Zealanders feel.
In response, Mr Copeland said he believed civil unions were sufficient for gay couples.
"We've all seen on television the people having their champagne and so forth at civil unions. So it seems to me that this move - from my point of view - is actually to try and pretend that that's not good enough."
NZN / 3 News