Equalities Minister Helen Grant has responded to critics of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill and pledged her support for it, saying she feels it is “absolutely consistent” with her Christian beliefs and Conservative politics.

Mrs Grant will be part of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) team pushing the bill through the House of Commons. She told The House Magazine that the bill was a “wonderful opportunity” when she was interviewed on Thursday.

Mrs Grant said: “I think it’s pretty consistent, personally, with who we [Conservatives] are and what we’re trying to achieve, which is a fairer, richer, more equal society in many ways.”

She dismissed objections from her fellow Conservatives that the bill should not have been pushed so quickly.

“I would say [to them] ‘why not now?’ This has been in existence, the law has been the way it has been for a very long time now: civil partnerships went quite a way, but not completely all the way,” she said.

Mrs Grant also addressed the objections made by Defence Secretary Philip Hammond, among others, who say the bill should not be prioritised at the present time.

“[The] Government has huge capacity,” she said. “We’re working very, very hard on the economy and getting that right – why not now?”

She went on to address critics who have claimed that the bill was being pushed without a mandate: “It was in the Contract for Equalities that was published at the same time as the Conservative General Election manifesto. It was quite clear what our intentions may well be.”

As for her own individual beliefs, she said: “I am a God-fearing woman. My faith is very fundamental to everything I do and think. I am member of the Church of England, a Christian, and my faith is very, very important to me.”

“I think it’s absolutely consistent with my beliefs,” she said of equal marriage. “For me, as a Christian, I see it as about justice, equality, fairness, ending discrimination and opening up marriage to more people on the basis that marriage is a very special institution. It’s an amazing institution. We shouldn’t be stopping people from getting married unless there’s a very good reason, and being gay, lesbian, bisexual is not one of them.”