Equalities Minister Maria Miller has confirmed the Government will extend marriage to same-sex couples in a civil ceremony and allow those religious organisations which wish to conduct gay marriages to do so.
Outlining the plans in the Commons, she said a "quadruple lock" in law will also be offered to protect religious institutions and individuals from being forced to hold the same-sex ceremonies.
The Government will today set out its plans to legislate for gay marriage amid bitter opposition from some Tory MPs.
The historic move - which will allow same-sex couples to wed in church - has been hailed by gay rights campaigners but has angered Tory traditionalists who have warned that many activists will no longer be prepared to go out and campaign for the party if it goes through.
Conservative MP David Davies has attempted to play down accusations that he is prejudiced against homosexual people by posting a video of himself boxing against an openly gay boxer in 2008.
He said that he started training with Charles 'Pink Pounder' Jones subsequently because he respected and liked him.
Davies came under criticism yesterday for saying that "most parents" would prefer their children to not be gay.
He posted the following video on Twitter along with the comment: "Once fought [a] gay boxer. Respect and like. Trained with [him] after bout so not bigoted. Activists calm down - listen to other view".
Former Prime Minister Sir John Major said: "The Prime Minister's instinct to support equal marriage is a courageous and genuine attempt to offer security and comfort to people who - at present - may be together, yet feel apart.
"I fully understand that there are many who will find this difficult to accept, as will the Churches.
"But the Prime Minister has made it clear that the Churches will be free to make their own decisions upon whether to conduct such marriages - and that is entirely the right approach.
"We live in the 21st century and must move on: every couple should have the opportunity and the right to formalise their relationship."