Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary and Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities Yvette Cooper says David Cameron needs to “show a bit of backbone” over the issue of equal marriage.

Writing for the Independent, Ms Cooper said: “With all three main party leaders and the majority of MPs backing same-sex marriage, changing the law should be straightforward. But reactionary voices have been noisy and Number 10 has started to wobble”.

“Sadly the backlash against same-sex marriage has started; no mention in the Queens Speech, not even a promised draft bill, and a stream of briefings about Number 10 u-turns and the doubts of senior ministers,” Ms Cooper said.

Earlier this year, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said equal marriage was “too controversial” for the government to tackle and that it should focus on the “things that matter to people in this country”.

However, Ms Cooper said: “The arguments against changing the law are deeply unconvincing. Tory ministers who argue it shouldn’t be a priority and should be stopped for fear of distracting from the economy are missing the point. It isn’t same-sex marriage that is undermining jobs and growth. George Osborne is doing that”.

Chancellor George Osborne announced his support for equal marriage last weekend.

Ms Cooper went on: “Nor can anyone plausibly claim it will take up too much parliamentary time. When the Civil Partnerships Bill was being passed in 2003/04, it took less than 1% of available parliamentary time in the Commons chamber — 11 hours and 11 minutes out of a total of over 1,200 hours of possible debate.

She added: “Especially with agreement between the party leaders, there is no reason why this Bill should be bogged down”.

Writing exclusively for PinkNews.co.uk in March of this year, Ms Cooper said the government’s plans for equal marriage must also allow faith groups, who want to be able to provide same-sex weddings, to be able to do so.

On Monday, a high-profile anti-equal marriage protest took place against the backdrop of the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham.

Former Tory MP Ann Widdecombe and Lord Carey, the ex-Archbishop of Canterbury, outlined their staunch opposition to marriage equality to a crowd of around 900 Tory supporters.

Earlier in the week, it was reported that David Cameron had urged ministers to prioritise equal marriage legislation, with a senior Downing Street source quoted by the Independent as saying that the prime minister: “regards this as a straightforward matter of equality and believes that we should just get on with it.”

Culture Secretary and Minister for Equalities Maria Miller told delegates at the Conservative Party Conference on Wednesday that the government remained determined to implement the measure.