If marriage was a building, the massive grassroots revolution now underway would ensure it soon won the highest possible listed preservation grading.

So far around 400,000 people, thousands of them from Lancashire, have signed online or paper petitions backing the traditional definition of marriage.

I’ve had one doing a roaring business around my East Lancashire friends for the last fortnight.

All signees wish to join the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches, plus the Muslim Council of Britain and senior members of the Jewish and Sikh communities, all opposing changes to marriage suggested by our coalition government.

This week, even Prime Minister Cameron seemed to wobble under the public pressure, telling church leaders that he did not want a row over the issue.

“I hope we won’t fall out too much over gay marriage,” he said, adding, “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.”

It seemed an extra-ordinary admission that gay couples already had the full protection of the law and perhaps didn’t even need marriage - the very argument his opponents have been highlighting for weeks.

Mr Cameron also took the opportunity of the meeting to welcome the “fight-back” against secular attempts to remove faith from public life and even explained that his government was “doing God”.

“The greatest need we have in our country,” he stressed, “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.”