Minister on defensive as gay marriage protests grow

The UK government's plan to legalise gay marriage in England and Wales has had a pretty short honeymoon.

Today, sixty MPs and peers have written to the Daily Telegraph to argue that ministers have no mandate to redefine the meaning of marriage. The parliamentarians argue that the government's consultation ignores the views of 500,000 British residents.

Whereas public opposition has thus far largely been confined to Conservative MPs, the letter includes among its signatories several Labour figures, including Lord Anderson of Swansea.

The backlash has put the Equalities Minister, Maria Miller, on the defensive, particularly over her intention to make gay marriage in the Church of England and the Church in Wales illegal.

Mrs Miller has used her own blog to tackle what she calls some of the "misconceptions and half-truths swirling around" the policy.

"I appreciate that this isn't the simplest of stuff to explain", she writes. "But, while the legal treatment of the Church of England (and the Church in Wales) might be slightly different, the principle remains very much the same.

"Religious organisations should have the freedom to decide, within their own decision-making structures, whether they want to marry same-sex couples or not. They all have the option to opt-in. And that is what our proposals guarantee."

If that doesn't answer all your questions, you can read her full blog here.