The prime minister says he will “listen carefully” to idea of making civil partnerships open to straight couples – but adds: “I’m a marriage man”.

David Cameron made the comments on Wednesday lunchtime at PMQs in response to a question from Conservative MP Christopher Chope.

He asked for civil partnerships to be open to heterosexual as well as gay couples.

The PM said he would “listen carefully” to the idea, but that he did not want to do anything to “weaken marriage”.

“I’m a marriage man, I’m a great supporter of marriage, I want to promote marriage, defend marriage, encourage marriage… I think we should be promoting marriage rather than looking at any other way of weakening it.”

Mr Chope was one of 136 Conservatives who opposed the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill in Tuesday night’s historic vote.

The government has so far ruled out introducing civil partnerships for heterosexuals as part of its marriage reforms – despite support for measure from the Liberal Democrats.

Later on in PMQs, Labour MP Diane Abbott praised the results of last night’s equal marriage vote and congratulated the efforts of gay rights campaigners.

The PM replied: “I agree very much with the Honourable Lady, I think last night’s vote will be seen not just as making sure there is a proper element of equality, but also helping build a stronger and fairer society… I would pay tribute to all those people who have made this case for many, many years, saying they want their love to count as much as love for man and woman counts.”