David Cameron’s controversial plan to rewrite the definition of marriage has been branded “pure politics” by former Labour Cabinet Minister Ben Bradshaw.
Mr Bradshaw, who became one of the first openly gay members of Parliament, said that the issue was not “a priority for the gay community, which already won equal rights” with civil partnerships.
Interviewed in The Washington Post Mr Bradshaw added: “We’ve never needed the word ‘marriage'”.
Mr Bradshaw’s comments come as a petition in support of the traditional definition of marriage approaches 400,000 signatures. It is being run by the Coalition for Marriage (C4M).
Colin Hart, the group’s campaign director, said he was delighted at the huge influx of support for the campaign: “This is the biggest grassroots campaign of this parliament, which shows just how important this issue is to many ordinary people.”
The Government’s plans to redefine marriage have attracted widespread opposition.
The Archbishop of Canterbury said that marriage should not be redefined in the law during a speech on human rights.
The Roman Catholic Church and the UK’s largest Muslim umbrella group have also opposed the move.
Last month a former chairman of the Conservative Party said that Mr Cameron’s plans for same-sex marriage are ill-considered and will not win him the next election.
Lord Tebbit said: “Within the can of worms that Mr Cameron is determined to open there are several nests of snakes. Why should a marriage be confined to just two persons?”
He added: “I doubt if Mr Cameron’s new-found enthusiasm for ‘gay marriage’ will make it any more likely that he will lead the Conservative Party to a majority in 2015 or add greatly to the sum total of happiness and contentment in our society.”
And Giles Chichester, a Conservative MEP, has warned that the redefinition of marriage would cause a grassroots Tory revolt.