A Daily Telegraph columnist has become the latest figure to call for a public referendum on whether marriage should be redefined.
Equalities minister Lynne Featherstone launched a consultation on same-sex marriage last week, stressing that it is “how” not “whether” the change is introduced.
But The Telegraph’s Ed West branded it a “sham”, and urged the Government to consult the British public on the matter.
Mr West said: “The fact that, after half a century of government interference, up to a quarter of children now grow up without a father makes it seem a strange time to meddle with the institution.”
He added: “If the government really wanted to consult the people, why go through this sham of a consultation – why not just have a referendum?”
Earlier this month an editorial in The Sun called for the issue to be put to a public vote.
It said: “This is a very big issue for our whole society. And one over which sincere people have different opinions.
“Why don’t we pause for three months, ignore our mixed bag of politicians and let the people decide with a referendum?”
In February former Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe also said that Prime Minister David Cameron should ask the public’s view on redefining marriage before ploughing ahead with “the most fundamental change to society in centuries”.
Coalition for Marriage, a grassroots campaign group against the redefinition of marriage, said the Government’s plans were “profoundly anti-democratic”.
Campaign director Colin Hart said: “It is being pushed through despite the public never having a say on this change.
“None of the main political parties proposed redefining marriage in their manifestos and the impact assessment misses out many of the possible problems that could occur if this institution is redefined, for example how this change will affect our schools.
“The institution of marriage is not the play thing of the state, it belongs to society and therefore cannot be redefined by a few politicians obsessed with appearing ‘trendy’ and ‘progressive’.”
In less than one month the Coalition for Marriage petition has over 250,000 signatures. It can be signed here: www.c4m.org.uk