A Republican congressman who was censured by his own local party for backing same-sex marriage has said the action was “hastily pursued”.

Last month, Pennsylvania lawmaker Chalie Dent – who sits in the US House of Representatives – said that “life’s too short” to stand in the way of people who want to be able marry.

On Thursday, Republicans in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania passed a motion of censure, condemning Dent for his comments.

Reacting today, he said: “The members of the Lebanon County Republican Committee and I are likely going to agree more than 90 percent of the time. This is just one of those issues where we have a difference of opinion.

“As a Republican, I believe this issue is a matter of individual freedom and personal liberty.

“It is inconsistent to decry the overreach of Big Government with one breath and then demand that Big Government invade our homes and intrude in our personal lives with the next.

“I wish the members of the Committee had given me the courtesy to explain my stance to them before taking the action they hastily pursued.

“Now that this is behind us, I look forward to working with the Committee and its members to ensure the success of our candidates in November.”

Despite passing the censure, which marks a strong disapproval, committee chairman Casey Long said the party would continue to support Dent in his re-election bid.

Same-sex marriages began in Pennsylvania last month, after Judge John Jones struck down the state’s constitutional marriage ban.