Gay couple to sue church over gay marriage opt-out

Thu, 1 Aug 2013

Wealthy gay dad, Barrie Drewitt-Barlow, says he and his civil partner Tony will go to court to force churches to host gay weddings.

He told the Essex Chronicle that he will take legal action because “I am still not getting what I want”.

A Government Bill legalising gay marriage passed Parliament recently but it included measures to protect churches from being forced to perform same-sex weddings.

Challenge

Mr Drewitt-Barlow said: “The only way forward for us now is to make a challenge in the courts against the church.

“It is a shame that we are forced to take Christians into a court to get them to recognise us.”

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.”

Lobby

The gay couple shot to fame in 1999 when they became the first British same-sex couple to be named on their children’s birth certificates.

They entered a civil partnership in 2006, and Barrie Drewitt-Barlow has reportedly donated around £500,000 to groups lobbying for same-sex marriage.

Last year the Church of England warned that the Government’s plans to redefine marriage could trigger legal problems and end the 500-year link between church and state.

‘Problematic’

In January this year a leading lawyer cautioned that the plans left the Church of England open to legal challenge.

The Prime Minister was sent a copy of the legal opinion by Lord Carey, a former Archbishop of Canterbury.

In June 2012 Crispin Blunt MP, who was then a Justice Minister, admitted that the Government’s plans could lead to legal issues.

He said the Government is “seeking to protect, indeed, proscribe religious organisations from offering gay marriage”, but he continued: “That may be problematic legally”.