MPs are debating the second reading of the government’s Marriage (Same Sex Couples Bill) – with Culture Secretary and Minister for Equalities Maria Miller opening the debate.

She said: “What marriage offers us all is a lifelong partner to share our journey; a loving stable relationship to strengthen us and a mutual support throughout our lives.

“I believe this is something that should be embraced by more couples.

“The depth of feeling, love and commitment is no different between same sex couples than opposite sex couples.

“This bill enables society to recognise that commitment in the same way too, through marriage.”

Simon Hughes, the Lib Dem deputy leader, said he will support the bill. But the government should only legislate for state marriage.

Earlier on Tuesday, Mr Hughes – who is bisexual – told ITV1’s This Morning that he would vote “yes” on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, but that he would also vote against the timetabling motion for it.

Critical of the wording of the bill, and saying that it was not clear, Mr Hughes said that the aim should be to avoid offending people. He said that the bill should go ahead, but warned that time should be taken.

Speaking in the Commons, Caroline Lucas, the Green MP, complained that the bill will not give the Church of England the option of marrying gay couples.

Maria Miller responded by saying that the Church of England is not being treated differently. But the Church of England and the Church in Wales have different duties from other faiths; they have a duty to marry people.