Pressure is increasing on the Government to honour its commitment to give same-sex couples the right to marry, as more public figures spoke out yesterday against opponents of the plans.
The backlash comes after the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, lent his voice to a new campaign to oppose plans to change the status of marriage, calling it "one of the greatest political power grabs in history".
The campaign, named the Coalition for Marriage, was launched alongside a petition that was signed by a number of MPs, including Fiona Bruce, MP for Congleton, and David Burrowes, MP for Enfield-Southgate.
The group is supported by Christian organisations, and has contacted 175,000 supporters asking them to back an online petition opposing the move. By last night it had collected about 19,000 signatures.
Responding to the group, Yvette Cooper, the shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, said: "We support gay marriage. Two people who love one another and want to get married deserve the same recognition from the state and society as anyone else."
In September, it was announced that the Coalition Government would legislate for same-sex marriages by 2015.
A public consultation on how to make civil marriage available to same-sex couples is to be launched next month, but Ms Cooper said it was regrettable the Coalition had delayed it until then.
The Labour frontbencher Chris Byrant, who is gay, said those who argued that allowing same-sex marriages would cause chaos were "deluded". "There are a lot of bizarre anomalies in the current rules for weddings," he said.
One gay Tory MP said: "The churches seem to miss the point that they won't be forced to conduct same-sex weddings it they don't want to."
Singer Beverly Knight said yesterday: "To my mind marriage is the union of two people who love each other." While Matthew Todd, editor of Attitude magazine, said Lord Carey was "on the wrong side of history".