Gay marriage plans offer 'quadruple lock' for opposed religious groups
Culture secretary reveals legal protections for religious groups that may not want to conduct same-sex wedding ceremonies
Patrick Wintour, political editor
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 11 December 2012 08.19 EST
The culture secretary, Maria Miller, has prepared herself for a year-long battle to introduce same-sex marriage, with the first ceremonies due to take place in 2014.
On Tuesday she sought to reassure Tory MPs that religious groups would not be obliged to conduct the ceremonies, vowing a triple legal guarantee that the European court would not be allowed to interfere, and in the case of the Church of England, a quadruple guarantee or lock.
Tory sources claim 60% of party MPs support the proposals, with 40% opposed or planning to abstain until they have seen the details of the legislation.
David Cameron has given his MPs, including all government members, a free vote. The bill will be introduced in the Commons in January, but be carried over in the next parliament and complete its passage by the end of 2013. Conservative sources are confident the proposals will carry through the Lords without excessive problems.