Equalities Minister Maria Miller has been urged to “reconsider” after she gave her support for redefining marriage in a national newspaper article.
Mrs Miller – who was given the equalities post earlier this month – says both she and the Government think a redefinition is “needed”.
But one critic accused the Minister of “undermining” the Government’s consultation on the issue by commenting “before it has had a chance to analyse the 228,000 responses it received”.
In her article for The Independent, Mrs Miller commented there were “strong views on both sides”, and added: “Fully respecting those views is vital”.
She also said that “no religious organisation will be forced to conduct marriages for same-sex couples as a result of our proposals”.
However another Government Minister has admitted that concerns about European judges forcing churches to conduct gay weddings against their will are “legitimate”.
Responding to the Equalities Minister’s comments, a spokesman for Coalition for Marriage – which is campaigning against the redefinition of marriage – said: “We are very disappointed to hear this.
“This legislation is anti-democratic as it is not what a majority of the public want and we would urge her to reconsider.”
And an unnamed Conservative critic of the plan said: “I am surprised that the Government has decided to give any indication about the progress of the consultation and its thinking before it has had a chance to analyse the 228,000 responses it received”.
He added: “There is a huge swath and depth of concern about this and ministers should not be undermining or prejudging their own consultation on a subject of such fundamental importance as redefining marriage.”