Yvette Cooper MP, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary and Minister for Women & Equalities, welcomes today’s publication of the government’s Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill.

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.

So I’m glad the government has changed course and accepted our proposal that churches such as the Quakers and Unitarians who want to hold same sex marriages should be able to do so.

The government also needs to make sure other churches – including the Church of England and the Church in Wales – can sign up to equal marriage in future if they change their minds, without needing to return to cumbersome primary legislation.

We look forward to scrutinising the Bill in detail during the parliamentary committee stages to get it right and hope it will get widespread support. Surveys show the majority of people support marriage for same sex couples.

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.”