A Utah lawmaker has sponsored a bill that seeks to refer to the marriages of gay and lesbian couples as “pairages.”

According to The New York Times, shortly after the US Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal in a case challenging Utah's restrictive marriage ban – hence legalizing such unions in the state – Republican Representative Kraig Powell opened a bill file in the Utah legislature to revise marriage statutes.

Powell “suggested rewriting the law to refer to same-sex marriages as 'pairages,'” the Times reported.

Openly gay state Senator Jim Dabakis balked at the idea, saying it represented “apartheid marriage.”

Powell, an opponent of marriage equality, said the law should recognize the “innate differences” between gay and straight couples.

“The differences between a same-sex relationship and an opposite-sex relationship are large enough that maybe we ought to recognize the difference between them,” he said.