Three quarters of Conservative peers and 67% of cross-benchers surveyed in a poll say the government should call a halt to its plans to introduce equal marriage for England and Wales, according to ComRes.

Its poll of peers has been carried out for the Coalition for Marriage (C4M) – the UK’s main lobby group that opposes equal marriage.

According to the results, 56% agreed with the statement that the government should “not proceed” with the changes if the consultation does not show “broad support”.

When asked whether the measure should simply be shelved until after the next election irrespective of the consultation results, opinion was finely balanced with 46% in favour and 49% against.

Three quarters of Conservative peers and 67% of cross-benchers polled favoured a pause but only 15% of Liberal Democrats did so.

In November, YouGov Associate Director Anthony Wells criticised same-sex marriage polls that feature agree/disagree statements; the trait has repeatedly been incorporated into polls commissioned by C4M.

Mr Wells wrote on his blog that the majority of polls conducted on equal marriage to date show “that the balance of opinion is broadly positive towards it.”

In the past year, ComRes have published several polls showing contradictory results over the issue. The vast majority for C4M have shown public opinion to be against equal marriage.

Yet, on Boxing Day, ComRes released a poll commissioned by the Independent showing that 62% of people believe the Church of England should host same-sex marriages.

On Tuesday 11 December, the government released the results of its public consultation on the reform, which showed 53% are in favour of the introduction of equal marriage.

On the same day, Culture Secretary Maria Miller confirmed that full marriage equality – including allowing religious organisations to provide same-sex weddings – would be introduced for gay couples living in England and Wales in 2013.

However, the Church of England and the Church in Wales would be banned from doing so.

Mrs Miller has also refused to rule out using the Parliament Act in order for the government to get its planned equal marriage legislation on the statute book, if it’s rejected in the Lords.

Meanwhile, a separate poll of MPs found that two thirds of members of the Commons are opposed to using Parliament Act to get the legislation through if it is blocked in the Lords.

Despite predictions that almost half of Tory MPs will vote against equal marriage in a free vote, the proposal is likely to secure a majority in the Commons with the support of Labour and Liberal Democrat members.

In a bid to quash incorrect claims about the lack of a manifesto pledge, the Conservative Party’s LGBT group wrote to all 303 Tory MPs in December calling on them to support equal marriage rights for gay couples.

David Cameron’s popularity among LGBT voters has risen since he backed equal marriage, according to a PinkNews.co.uk poll published in the same month.