Leading Alaskan Republican Party Representatives have apologised for laughing when asked about civil unions during a House Majority press conference – their response caused anger after a video of the incident was posted online.

The video, circulated on news sites and blogs, features Mark Miller, a journalist from the Juneau Empire asking the Republican-led House Majority caucus whether it had plans to introduce civil unions, of some form, for same-sex couples. He cites a poll that found 70% of Alaskans would not oppose legal recognition for same-sex couples.

The members of the caucus erupt into laughter after the question is asked, appearing to find the topic itself amusing.

House Majority Leader Lance Pruitt then responds by stating that civil unions hadn’t come up in discussions.

Mr Pruitt adds: “I think that’s what is important about this caucus is that we focussed on the things that really allow people to have a great life.

“We didn’t have a discussion here about what happens inside your home. We had a discussion here about whether or not you can make money, whether there’s a great economy and whether or not you’re going to have the opportunity to live in Alaska with a great future.”

On Monday, Mr Pruitt issued a statement apologising for the laughter.

He said: “I would like to make two things clear: laughter was not an appropriate response under any circumstances, and we regret and apologise for the reaction to that question. It was a serious question; it is a serious issue — and it is not something the caucus has taken a position on.”

Speaker of the House Mike Chenault added: “I completely agree: laughter was inappropriate. However, it’s clear from the totality of the response and circumstances the laughter was in reaction to which legislator had to field the difficult question, and did not go to the merits of the issue.

“Regardless, laughter was not appropriate and for that we sincerely apologise.”