Conservative MP Caroline Dinenage has told a PinkNews reader that the “state has no right” to redefine its meaning of marriage and that “preventing same-sex couples from being allowed to marry takes nothing away from their relationship.”

The MP, who represents Gosport in Hampshire, is the daughter of Fred Dinenage, the veteran ITV regional news presenter and former presenter of children’s programme How2.

Responding to a letter from our reader, the MP said:

I believe that the degree to which someone practices their faith is a deeply personal matter. While I am in no position to question the strength of an individual’s beliefs, it is important to understand that the Church of England is the established Church in this country and the relationship between Church and State is a key part of the constitutional framework that has evolved over centuries. As you may know, as the established Church, its own Canon Law is part of the law of the land and one of its canons states that marriage is in its nature a union of “one man and one woman”.

I therefore believe that the institution of marriage is distinctive and the State has no right to redefine its meaning – these proposals were not included in any of the three main manifestoes nor did it feature in the Coalition’s Programme for Government. As I have mentioned, under current law same-sex couples can have a civil partnership but not a civil marriage and I believe that there is no legitimate reason to change this. Preventing same-sex couples from being allowed to ‘marry’ takes nothing away from their relationship.

With regard to your concerns about solemnisation, the Church of England, Roman Catholics along with other denominations, already voiced their opposition to same-sex marriage, therefore the government’s proposals have simply provided the legal framework for the C of E to enforce their position without fear of prosecution.

The first vote on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill will take place in the House of Commons on Tuesday.