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Maria Miller: Churches 'free to choose' on gay marriage

25 January 2013 Last updated at 11:31 GMT

The full text of the Equal Marriage Bill will be made available today. The bill was introduced to parliament yesterday and MPs will have their first chance to vote on the government's controversial plans to allow same-sex marriages on Tuesday 5 February.

David Cameron has given his MPs a free vote on the Bill, which has also been criticised by religious leaders who fear it could lead to them being forced to conduct same-sex weddings despite the government insisting there are legal safeguards to prevent that happening.

Talking to the Today programme's John Humphrys, Maria Miller, Equalities Minister, said that "churches are free to choose, according to their beliefs, as to whether or not they want to undertake gay marriage."

"We are making marriage available to more couples," she added.

"It is not for the sate or the government to tell any religious institution what they should do," she said.

This item was first broadcast on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Friday 25 January 2013.