Less than two weeks after the coalition government’s gay “marriage” bill was signed into law, a homosexual man has launched a lawsuit against a Church of England parish in Maldon for refusing him and his civil partner the lavish church wedding of their dreams. Barrie Drewitt-Barlow told the Essex Chronicle that he has launched the suit because, despite the law, “I am still not getting what I want.”
Section 9 of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, which comes into effect next year, grants anyone in a civil partnership the ability to convert that partnership into a “marriage.” But the law contains measures specifically to preclude unwilling churches from being forced to participate.
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 recognize us.”
“But we don’t want to force anyone into marrying us – it is supposed to be the happiest day in my life and that would make me miserable and would spoil the whole thing,” he said. “Aren’t Christians meant to forgive and accept and love?”
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.”
Drewitt-Barlow is a high-profile homosexual campaigner who in 1998 went to court in the U.S. to force government for the first time to allow only him and his partner, Tony, to be named on the birth certificate of their twins, who were conceived with a donated ovum and carried by a surrogate in California.
The two have since acquired three more children through similar means and opened Britain’s first surrogacy business catering especially to same-sex partners.
The Christian Institute reported that Barrie Drewitt-Barlow has donated around £500,000 to groups lobbying for same-sex marriage.
“We are happy for gay marriage to be recognized – in that sense it is a big step. But it is actually a small step because it is something we still cannot actually do. We need to convince the church that it is the right thing for our community for them to recognize as practicing Christians,” Drewitt-Barlow told the Essex Chronicle.
“I am a Christian – a practicing Christian – my children have all been brought up as Christians and are part of the local [Church of England] parish church in Danbury. I want to go into my church and marry my husband,” he said. “If I was a Sikh I could get married at the Gurdwara. Liberal Jews can marry in the synagogue – just not the Christians.”
Legislators had insisted that churches and clergy would not be subject to legal harassment over the proposal. Equalities Minister Maria Miller unveiled a series of amendments, called the “quadruple lock,” that the government said would stave off attempts of this kind.
Both the Catholic Church and Church of England, as well as legal experts, however, dismissed the government’s promises, saying that no law in Britain was safe from being overturned by the European Court of Human Rights. The Church of England, the nation’s established religion, warned that a successful legal challenge could make it impossible for the Church to continue its role conducting marriages on behalf of the state.
They called the government’s attempt to re-write the marriage law “divisive” and “essentially ideological.”
Aidan O’Neill QC had given evidence to the government’s hearings saying that, because the Church of England is obliged to marry any eligible person who lives in a parish boundary, the “quadruple lock” is “eminently challengeable” at the European Court of Human Rights.
Moreover, existing Equalities law could allow local councils to enact reprisals against religious groups who refuse to “marry” homosexual partners, including refusing them the use of community center facilities.
In June, an openly homosexual Government Justice Minister, Crispin Blunt, admitted to the BBC that the attempt to proscribe Church of England participation in “gay marriages” “may be problematic legally.”
The government’s proposal, he said, “is that marriage should be equal in the eyes of the state whether it’s between a same-sex couple or whether it’s between a man and a woman.” Thus, the opposition to the law by churches would fall under the provisions of the Equalities Act, the same act that resulted in the forced closure or secularization of every Catholic adoption agency in England and Wales.
“We’ll have to see what happens with that,” Blunt told the BBC.