A Conservative MP has spoken out against the coalition government’s plans to allow marriage equality, saying their intentions are “barking mad”.

On the same day that nineteen senior Conservatives launched a campaign group aiming to legalise marriage equality, MP David TC Davies, said that the Conservative party was at risk of losing a “large number of very loyal activists” if it went ahead with the plan, reported the BBC. 

In an interview with BBC Radio Wales, David Davies said: “If there are any sort of areas where there isn’t full equality with married couples then I’d be more than happy to support making changes to civic ceremonies, so I really don’t know why we need to go ahead with this at all.

“I think most people are very tolerant and have no problem at all if people are gay but, and I hate to say this in a way because I expect it’s going to cause controversy, but I think most parents would prefer their children not to be gay, knowing most parents want grandchildren if nothing else.”

On Friday, David Cameron confirmed reports that he is to back same-sex marriages for religious institutions, and he had previously promised that the law would be in place by the next election in 2015.

In late November, the prime minister revealed that he was intending to fast-track legislation to introduce equal marriage within weeks.

Maria Miller, the Culture Secretary and Minister for Equality, will reveal more details about the government plans in the coming week.

Religious institutions will be allowed to perform same-sex weddings, although it was previously believed they would be excluded from the plans

Ms Miller confirmed, however, that “No religious organisation, or individual, should ever be forced to conduct same sex marriages.”

Conservative MPs will be allowed a free vote on the issue, and it is thought that a number of the party’s cabinet ministers will vote against it. Mr Davies continued:

“What I’m concerned about is what we were originally given a consultation on, and that is having gay marriage recognised by law which opens to door to all churches being forced to do that.”

“It changes the way that sex education is going to be taught in schools.” He went on: “It’s going to have an impact on teachers and I think it goes against what a lot of people feel very strongly about, particularly within the Conservative Party.

“There is a political calculation here, at some level, that this is going to be good and if we go ahead with it David Cameron’s going to be carried shoulder high back into number 10 by Stonewall activists, and it simply isn’t going to happen.

“What is going to happen is that we’re going to lose a large number of very loyal activists who’ve gone out and campaigned for us over the years and who don’t like this idea, so politically it’s barking mad.”

David Cameron said on Friday that he was a “massive” supporter of marriage equality, and that he didn’t “want gay people to be excluded from a great institution.”

The issue of equal marriage has been divisive among Conservative politicians, with around 130 MPs appearing to be planning to vote against the measure when it comes before parliament in spring.

The Bishops’ Conference, representing the Catholic Church in England and Wales reaffirmed its opposition to the government’s move towards marriage equality. It said: “We remain firmly opposed to the government’s proposal to redefine marriage.

The BBC reports, however, that groups such as Quakers, Unitarians, and Liberal Judaism, favour marriage equality, and are thought to be likely to go ahead with plans to perform same-sex ceremonies.