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.”
“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.”