Australian Member of Parliament Kevin Andrews
CNN  — 

An Australian lawmaker, who’s long opposed same-sex marriage, compared it this week to his relationship with his cycling buddies.

Conservative Liberal MP Kevin Andrews was talking to CNN affiliate SkyNews when he tried to make the point that the definition of marriage shouldn’t be expanded.

“There are all sorts of affectionate relationships,” Andrews said. “I have an affectionate relationship with my cycling mates. We go cycling on the weekends, but that’s not marriage.”

The SkyNews host promptly interjected, asking Andrews if he was saying same-sex relationships might not be as meaningful as heterosexual relationships.

“I’m not saying that at all,” Andrews answered.

“You are comparing the same sex [couples] to someone who goes cycling with someone on the weekend or is merely friends,” SkyNews reporter Tom Connell rebutted. “These are people that are gonna get married. This is a lifelong commitment.”

Andrews stuck to his guns.

“That’s fine,” he said. “.And I have commitments to friends. I have affectionate relationships with friends as well.”

Almost immediately, the mocking began. Was he saying his relationship with his cycling buddies is more than just friendship? Or was he saying same-sex couples are only as intimate as cycling buddies in general?

Australia is in the midst of a national debate on same-sex marriage.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told reporters last week that he would “give all Australians a say” on the matter.

“I’ll be voting yes, as will (my wife), I’m very open about that/ But the Australian people are never wrong when they vote, whether it’s for governments or on matters like this. Their vote will be respected,” Turnbull said.

The governing Liberal National coalition failed last week to pass legislation to hold a compulsory national vote, or plebsicite, on same-sex marriage. It had already attempted once in October 2016.

Turnbull has said that if Parliament rejected the plebiscite, a voluntary national postal vote would be held instead without parliamentary approval.