Former children’s minister Tim Loughton has described the government’s handling of the same-sex marriage law for England and Wales as “rather crass and clumsily” executed.

Mr Loughton was among 128 Conservative MPs to vote against the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act at third reading in May.  

On Monday, he told the BBC’s World at One: “Most of us were really annoyed by the way it happened. It wasn’t in the manifestos and all of a sudden it became a very urgent issue, where as other things to do with family like the married transferable tax allowance apparently weren’t as urgent.

“So almost the mechanics of the way the gay marriage issue was handled became a bigger issue than whether you support gay marriage or not. The timing just seemed altogether rather crass and clumsily handled.”

In January 2013, Mr Loughton, who represents the constituency of East Worthing and Shoreham, West Sussex, defended his opposition to equal marriage by saying: “I have also heard from a number of gay people telling me: ‘We don’t need this. We don’t want to go and get married’.”

In November 2012, Mr Loughton described the Church of England’s marriage service as “a gift of God in creation through which husband and wife may know the grace of God”.

Mr Loughton was accused by Liberal Democrat MP and International Development Minister Lynne Featherstone of trying to derail the legislation in May.

He had unsuccessfully pushed for civil partnerships to be an option for heterosexual couples in an amendment to the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act.

Many in Westminster feared the amendment was an attempt to “wreck” the act because it could have delayed its passage beyond the 2015 general election.

Following cross-party agreement on 21 May, the government announced it would make a final decision on the future of civil partnerships by the winter of 2014.