A ComRes poll commissioned by Catholic Voices has found that 70 percent of two thousand people agreed marriage should only be available to a man and a woman.

70 percent of respondents in the poll released today agreed with the statement: “Marriage should continue to be defined as a life-long exclusive commitment between a man and a woman.”

22 percent disagreed with the proposition.

Fewer, 59 percent, thought gay couples should be “legally recognised through the civil partnership scheme”, but the question did not say whether the alternative was no legal recognition or another form of recognition.

Support for continuing to bar gay couples from marriage was high among all age groups, at odds with many opinion polls which have showed more support for marriage equality among younger generations.

In the 18-24 age group, 66% said they wanted marriage to remain between a man and a woman only. 81% of those above the age of 65 were in favour of retaining exclusively straight marriage.

Support was highest (81 percent) among married people and lowest (53 percent) among those cohabiting. Single and widowed correspondents favoured straight marriage by 60 and 71 percent respectively.

The least support for maintaining the bar on gay marriage came from Scotland, at 63%, where a public consultation on marriage equality finished in December.

84 percent agreed children “have the best chance in life if raised by their own mother and father in a stable, committed relationship” and support generally slightly higher among people with children than those without.

Dr Austen Ivereigh, coordinator of Catholic Voices, said: “Our poll shows that the Government has no mandate to alter an institution which lies at the foundation of our society.

“British people believe that gay relationships should be recognised by the state through civil partnerships.

“But they are clear that marriage is a unique institution which needs to be promoted because of the benefits to children of being raised by a mother and a father.

“These results are a clear warning to Government that it is at odds with the public on this issue.”

68 percent agreed with the statement: “Marriage is important to society and should be promoted by the state”.