Call us: Mon - Fri 8:30am - 7pm, Sat - Sun 9am - 5pm
Call local rate 0330 056 3171
Mon - Fri 8:30am - 7pm | Sat - Sun 9am - 5pm
Call local rate 0330 056 3171
Mon - Fri 8:30am - 7pm | Sat - Sun 9am - 5pm

Wealthy gay couple who want church wedding consider Church of England legal challenge

A wealthy gay couple are considering a legal challenge to the Church of England’s current ban on gay weddings.

Barrie Drewitt-Barlow and his partner Tony have been in a civil partnership since 2006, earlier making a name for themselves in 1999 when they became the first gay couple in Britain to be named on the birth certificate of a child. They now have five children by surrogacy.

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act passed into law last month but it contains legal protections for religious organisations, whose governing bodies must opt into performing same sex ceremonies. Such organisations will be protected from legal action.

The so-called ‘quadruple lock’ was introduced to  to protect churches which object to gay marriage from legal action.

The act specifically excludes the Church of England from conducting same sex marriages.

Mr Drewitt-Barlow, from Maldon, told the Essex Chronicle that he and his partner are keen to have a full church ceremony and, while they welcome the bill, they believe the legal exclusions discriminate against them.

“It is like someone giving me a sweetie with the wrapper on and telling me to suck it. We are happy for gay marriage to be recognised – in that sense it is a big step. But it is actually a small step because it is something we still cannot actually do.”

Mr Drewitt-Barlow is a Director of Social Work at the British Surrogacy Centre in Essex and a keen member of his local church.

He told the paper:

“I am a Christian – a practising Christian – my children have all been brought up as Christians and are part of the local parish church in Danbury. I want to go into my church and marry my husband.”

He added:

“It upsets me because I want it so much – a big lavish ceremony, the whole works, I just don’t think it is going to happen straight away. As much as people are saying this is a good thing I am still not getting what I want.”

He now believes that “the only way forward” is now to launch a legal challenge against the Church of England.

“We need to convince the church that it is the right thing for our community for them to recognise as practising Christians.

In a statement, Colin Hart of anti-gay marriage campaign group the Coalition for Marriage said:

‘The ink’s not even dry on the Bill and churches are already facing litigation. We warned Mr Cameron this would happen, we told him he was making promises that he couldn’t possibly keep.”

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

Contact us

As the UK's largest family law firm we understand that every case is personal.


  1. Luke says:

    Mr Drewitt-Barlow is not getting what he wants – and I don’t think he should.

    I am an atheist so I am not pro Church of England but it seems to me he has no case – Mr Drewitt-Barlow can get married but I don’t see why he should specifically force the Church of England to marry him in their church if they don’t want to.

    What Mr Drewitt-Barlow should recognise is that the Church of England doesn’t fully welcome gays (as is their religious right in my view) – he has the right to marry and trying to bully the Church of England into giving way doesn’t seem a very reasonable or ‘Christian’ thing to do 🙂

    Maybe what Mr Drewitt-Barlow should recognise is that all religions are essentially bonkers 🙂 and move on .

  2. Andrew says:

    Where will this end? Is anyone going to pass a law that the RC Church must ordain women?

    Mr D-B should recognise that for many people of religious faith – not only Anglicans – this is a bridge too far, and exercise some charity.

Leave a comment

Help & advice categories


Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up for advice on divorce and relationships from our lawyers, divorce coaches and relationship experts.

What type of information are you looking for?

Privacy Policy