Ed Miliband has decided to allow Labour MPs to vote against gay marriage if they want to it has been reported, having previously indicated he would impose the whip to make sure they voted in favour.
According to Sky News the decision to allow churches to conduct gay weddings if they so wanted influenced the Labour leader's decision to grant his MPs a free vote.
The majority of Labour MPs are believed to be in favour of allowing gay couples to get married. However some have expressed opposition and will now be free to vote against the legislation without formal repercussion.
According to the Coalition for Equal Marriage, a campaign group that has lobbied for same sex marriage, seven Labour MPs are on the record as opposing same sex-marriages.
They are: Great Grimsby MP Austin Mitchell, Birmingham MP Roger Godsiff, Heywood and Middleton MP Jim Dobbin, Bootle MP Joe Benton, North Tyneside MP Mary Glindon, Torfaen MP Paul Murphy and Ealing North MP Stephen Pound.
This number may grow in the wake of the government's decision not to explicitly restrict same-sex marriages to civil unions.
Culture secretary Maria Miller is due to unveil the government's same-sex marriage legislation in the Commons this afternoon.
The Conservative Party is deeply divided on the issue, with at least 100 Tory MPs expected to vote against the proposals.
David Cameron has also decided to give his MPs a free vote on the issue to prevent almost half his parliamentary party rebelling against the party whip.
The Liberal Democrats have yet to say whether their MPs will be whipped to vote in favour of gay marriage, although Nick Clegg has previously said he does not see why a free vote should be granted.Suggest a correction