A commentator for a British online magazine has said campaigners ‘demonise’ the working class by supporting equal marriage rights for gay and straight couples.

An opinion piece published this morning on Spiked claims that the international movement for equal marriage rights for gay and straight couples is used to indicate “moral superiority over the supposedly backward masses”.

The article follows condemnation of a public vote in North Carolina to amend the state constitution to ban gay marriages and any other form of “domestic legal union” for gay or straight couples.

Among others, North Carolina’s governor Beverly Perdue said people watching her state had been left “really confused, to have been such a progressive, forward-thinking, economically driven state that invested in education and that stood up for the civil rights of people, including the civil rights marches back in the fifties and sixties and seventies. Folks are saying, what in the world is going on in North Carolina?”

Spiked’s American writer Sean Collins wrote today that the four reasons he opposed marriage equality were the attitudes of equality advocates, belief that marriage is not a civil rights issue, the importance of defending traditional marriage from “state intrusion” and the lack of global consensus on the issue.

Mr Collins wrote that campaigners use their support to draw attention to their perceived moral superiority and that he would “refuse to join in the demonisation of working-class people, many of whom quite understandably don’t see why the institution of marriage should be reformed”.

Spiked’s proprietor and editor, Brendan O’Neill, who regularly writes in opposition of gay marriage at the Telegraph, has described equal access to marriage on Spiked as “a cynical campaign of opportunistic moral grandstanding on the part of the cultural elite” that would “drain” marriage of its meaning.

Mr Collins repeats an argument made by Mr O’Neill that marriage for gay couples is not a civil rights issue in the way that marriage for interracial couples was in the last century.

The argument states that marriage was historically a basis for procreation between two people, and earned its status as a civil right in that way.

Mr Collins asserts that the “fact that some couples do not have children does not invalidate the fundamental basis of this institution”.

Interracial couples had been denied the civil right to wed on the grounds of race since before the formation of the US, but these laws violated the “original promise of a union between one man and one woman”, Mr Collins claims.

Since gays are “ruled out in the inherent definition of marriage”, they are not denied a civil right on the basis of “social discrimination”.

If gays were permitted to enter the institution, marriage “would then become the union of two people who are committed romantically. You can argue that such a change would be for the better, but it would not be the realisation of a civil right; it would represent a fundamental change in our concept of marriage.”

For the state to legislate further than it already does on the construct of marriage would put it “much more in the driver’s seat” regarding private relationships, which the writer opposes.

Citing widespread support for marriage equality in the US but public ballots which have consistently denied or revoked gay citizens’ rights to marry, Mr Collins says: “The meaning of marriage, and the question of whether it should be changed to include gays and lesbians, should be a matter for public debate. For that reason, it is worth calling for state ballots: this is a social issue that should be decided democratically, not in courtrooms.”

Mr Collins concludes that he “will not join the cultural elite’s bandwagon, a bandwagon that runs on self-flattery and the demonisation of ‘backward’ voters”.

Spiked was founded by Mr O’Neill after the journal Living Marxism was bankrupted as a result of a successful libel claim brought by news service ITN.