I strongly believe that gay and lesbian couples should have an equal right to civil marriage as other couples.
In my view couples who love each other and want to make a long-term commitment to each other, should be able to marry, regardless of their gender or their sexuality.
I know that some religious leaders have expressed strong opposition to these proposals and I respect their views, but I believe that access to civil marriage is a legitimate aspiration for gay couples.
It should of course be a matter for individual churches to decide whether or not to hold same sex ceremonies.
There was opposition to civil partnerships when we introduced them seven years ago, yet many people of all faiths now respect and support civil partnerships.
I do realise there will be people disappointed with my position, but, like theirs, it is held sincerely. I can confirm that when proposals come before the House of Commons in relation to same-sex marriage that I will be voting in favour.