Utah State Rep. Merrill Nelson, a Republican from Grantsville, has proposed allowing taxpayers to donate part of their income tax refund to help fund the state's defense of its gay marriage ban.

Nelson's proposed bill would create a “Marriage Defense Fund.” In filing their taxes with the state, taxpayers could check off a box to donate to the fund. Direct donations would also be sought, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

After a federal judge last month struck down the ban as unconstitutional, key GOP lawmakers said they were willing to spend as much as $2 million in outside counsel to defend the ban in court.

“I see it as a way to placate proponents of same-sex marriage who have complained about the cost” to taxpayers, said Nelson. “I see it as a peacekeeping measure … I see this as a way to placate both sides.”

“I've had several individuals and groups tell me they would like to donate to the cause. It's a way for them to show their support,” he added.

Marriage equality proponents criticized the bill, which would also direct the state to “develop and maintain a marketing program to promote the fund.”

“It makes it sound like same-sex marriage is an attack on traditional marriage,” said Kent Frogley, vice chairman of the Utah Pride Center board. “What we are seeking is equality in marriage.”