Lib Dem Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone today declared herself "delighted" to announce the Government's move to legislate for same-sex marriages before the next general election.
Addressing the opening day of her party's autumn conference in Birmingham, she spoke passionately about the need to reject prejudice and discrimination, and support the cause of women's equal rights and persecuted minorities across the world.
To rounds of applause, she said: "I am delighted to announce today that in March this Government will bring in a formal consultation on how to implement equal civil marriage for same-sex couples.
"And this would allow us to make any legislative changes necessary by the end of this Parliament."
She added: "Civil partnerships were a very welcome first step, but as our constitution states, this party rejects prejudice and discrimination in all its forms. And I believe that to deny one group of people the same opportunities offered to another, is not only discrimination, it is simply not fair."