That doughty defender of marriage and the family, Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, insists it is important that people understand the difference between living together and marriage.
He says a live-in relationship is more likely to break down than a marriage relationship. He blames broken homes for funnelling children into the gangs that ran rampant during the summer riots, and says failure to support marriage will lead to further social breakdown.
Research by the Jubilee Centre based on published data covering 14,103 households and 22,265 adults supports his view. That research showed couples who lived together before marriage were 15 per cent more likely to divorce, and those who had previously lived with a different partner were around 45 per cent more likely to divorce.
Although the average length of unmarried relationships rose from two-and-a-half years to three-and-a-half years between the 1980s and the 2000s, fewer than one in four unmarried couples lived together for more than six-and-a-half years. Couples living together at the birth of their first child were six times more likely than married couples to split up by the time the child was five and four times more likely by the time the child was 16.
Norman Wells, of the Family Education Trust, says when a couple marry, they make a lifelong commitment to each other in the presence of witnesses. A "trial lifelong commitment," he says, is a contradiction in terms.
Prime Minister David Cameron has said he supports a change in the law to allow homosexuals to marry. ComRes, commissioned by Premier Christian Media, asked churchgoers at the end of October if they support or oppose the Government's proposal to legalise same-sex marriage.
The results show that of 544 interviewed, 11 per cent supported the proposal and 83 per cent opposed. Six per cent didn't know. Fifty-seven per cent indicated that as a result, they would be less likely to vote Conservative in future.
Commentators are pointing out that one per cent of the UK population identifies itself as homosexual, and some five million people are regular churchgoers. If David Cameron is risking alienating 57 per cent of them, they say, that's a pretty poor political decision.