The first legal challenge to the Church of England’s ban on same-sex marriage was launched today – months before the first gay wedding can take place. Gay father Barrie Drewitt-Barlow declared: ‘I want to go into my church and marry my husband.’ He added: ‘The only way forward for us now is to make a challenge in the courts against the Church.’
The legal move means an early test for David Cameron’s promise to the CofE and Roman Catholic bishops that no church would be forced to conduct same-sex weddings against the will of its leaders and its faithful.Barrie (right) Drewitt-Barlow wants to be able to marry his civil-partner Tony (left) in a church
Ministers set down a ‘quadruple lock’ in the new same sex marriage law – which received Royal Assent last month – which is supposed to protect those churches which oppose gay marriage.
However the guarantees will have to be tested in the courts and gay rights groups have been expecting to bring an early challenge. Mr Drewitt-Barlow and his civil partner Tony have been a celebrated couple since 1999, when they became the first gay couple to be named on the birth certificate of a child. They now have five children through surrogate mothers. He said: ‘We need to convince the church that it is the right thing for our community for them to recognise us as practising Christians.