The date has been announced when MPs will be able to vote on the Government's controversial same-sex marriage bill. MPs will be able to vote when the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill has its second reading in the House of Commons on February 5.
Yvette Cooper, shadow home secretary and shadow minister for women and equalities, has backed the upcoming Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill.
She said: "Couples who love each other and want to make a long-term commitment should be able to get married, whatever their gender or sexuality.
"Just as with civil partnerships in 2004, we look forward to passing this Bill into law with Labour votes.
"As freedom of religion is important, no church or religious organisation will be required to hold same-sex marriage ceremonies, but those who want to should be able to.
"Marriage as an institution has undergone repeated reform and modernisation over hundreds of years and needs to again now to reflect the equal value we place on long-term loving relationships for same-sex couples too."
The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill which has been published today by the Government is an appalling piece of legislation.
It creates two different and unequal forms of marriage and fails to deal with the important questions about how to protect those who work in the public sector, especially teachers who we learn today could face being disciplined, or sacked for backing traditional marriage.
– Colin Hart, campaign director of the Coalition for Marriage
A bill to legalise gay marriage is being published by the government today. Culture Secretary Maria Miller said the bill would ensures "equal and fair" treatment of gay couples, while allowing religious institutions opposed to the move the option to opt-out. She told Radio 4's Today programme:
We feel that marriage is a good thing and we should be supporting more couples to marry and that is exactly what the proposals being brought forward today do.
But it is about making sure that not only do we recognise the rights of same-sex couples in civil life, but we also recognise that some churches won't want to participate in same-sex marriages.
Second Church Estates Commissioner, Sir Tony Baldry, has said that the submission made by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to the same-sex marriage bill consultation last year, stated the Church of England could not support the proposal to enable all couples to have a civil marriage ceremony.
According to Sir Tony, it added, that such a move would alter the nature of marriage, because the union of a man and a woman is enshrined in institutions throughout history.
Adding that, changing the nature of marriage would deliver no legal gains, given the rights already conferred by civil partnerships.
Church representatives have met Culture Secretary Maria Miller to discuss the proposals of the same-sex marriage bill.
Sir Tony Baldry, Second Church Estates Commissioner, said there are key issues that need to be discussed, involving the Church of England.
The Church of England isn't asking for any special treatment or protection under this legislation, the issue is simply that the Bill should be drafted to ensure that the Church of England has the same freedoms as all other churches and denominations to decide these matters for itself.
Of course that has to reflect the somewhat unique legal position of the Church of England.
Tory former minister Sir Peter Bottomley said "nobody in the Church of England ought to be worried about same-sex people having the same opportunity of marrying as those who are of opposite sex.
– Sir Tony Baldry, Second Church Estates Commissioner