An anti-gay group in Minnesota who are trying to secure a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage has apologised after one of its officials suggested that equal marriage supporters were using techniques similar to Hitler.

The pastoral outreach director for Minnesota for Marriage, Rev. Brad Brandon said that Hitler suppressed religious freedom, and that religious freedom is at stake in Minnesota’s referendum.

The controversial remarks were made last week during a 40-minute Power Point presentation intended to sway voters to support the marriage amendment.

“In this, we’re not saying that one side or the another is equal to Adolf Hitler and the atrocities that were committed in Nazi Germany,” Rev. Brandon said before he was interrupted by several audience members.

One woman, whose grandparents survived the Holocaust, took particular exception to the comparison and accused Rev. Brandon of belittling the murder of 6 million Jews.

According to KMSP-TV, a spokeswoman for Minnesota for Marriage said the reference was taken out of context or misunderstood.

Deputy Campaign Manager Andy Parrish said Rev. Brandon’s remarks were not sanctioned by the campaign.

On 6 November Minnesota will vote on whether to limit the status of marriage to opposite sex couples.

Same-sex marriage is already unrecognised in the state and if the opponents are successful, it would make it even harder to implement the measure in the future.