Tory big beasts join new pro-gay marriage group.

Senior Tories such as Boris Johnson, Catholic Patrick McLoughlin and Education Secretary Michael Gove have today given their backing to same-sex marriage campaign and launched the group "Freedom to Marry".

The new group aims to help pass the Equal Marriage Bill when legislation comes before Parliament in the spring.

Group members have the same opinion as Prime Minister David Cameron that churches should be free to conduct gay marriage ceremonies but should not be forced to do so if they choose not to.

Tory MP Nick Herbert, who is in a civil partnership, says that changing the law is "the right the thing to do"

"It is precisely because marriage is such a uniquely important institution that we should ensure that all couples who want to enter into it, regardless of their sexuality, can do so.

"Conservatives who believe in marriage should feel this most strongly."