The Prime Minister has told church leaders that he does not want to “fall out” with them over his controversial plan to redefine marriage.
While David Cameron indicated that he intended to press ahead with the radical proposal he also appeared to suggest that it could be defeated.
Speaking at a Downing Street Easter reception yesterday Mr Cameron said: “I hope we won’t fall out too much over gay marriage”. He added: “There’ll be some strong arguments and strong words.”
But he commented: “If this doesn’t go ahead, there will still be civil partnerships, so gay people will be able to form a partnership that gives them many of the advantages of marriage.”
At the reception Mr Cameron also welcomed the “Christian fightback” against secular attempts to remove faith from public life and said that his Government was “doing God”.
He referred to legal battles over the right of councils to say prayers at the start of their meetings and the issue of wearing a cross at work.
He added: “The greatest need we have in our country is to have strong values and to teach our children and to bring people up with strong values.
“The values of the Bible, the values of Christianity, are the values that we need: values of compassion, of respect, of responsibility, of tolerance.”
The Westminster Government launched a consultation on its plans to rewrite the definition of marriage last month. However, the plans have been plagued by controversy.
Over 380,000 people have now signed a grassroots petition in support of the current definition of marriage.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has said that marriage should not be redefined in law.
The Roman Catholic Church, the Muslim Council of Britain and senior members of the Jewish and Sikh communities are also opposed to the change.