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Gay Couple May Sue Church of England to Wed in Church

by Trevor Grundy
Tuesday Aug 6, 2013

CANTERBURY, England (RNS) The British government's promise that no religious organization will be forced to conduct same-sex weddings following the passage of a gay marriage bill may soon be tested.

Barrie Drewitt-Barlow, 42, and his partner, Tony, 49 - millionaires who run a surrogacy company in Britain and the U.S. - have been a high-profile couple since 1999 when they became the first gay couple to be named on the birth certificate of their child.

Now they have five children by five surrogate mothers. All the children are American citizens born in California.

While planning for a sixth, they told the Daily Mail they plan to sue the Church of England to get married there.

"I want to go to my church and marry my husband," said Drewitt-Barlow in an interview published Friday (Aug. 2). "It is a shame that we are forced to take Christians into a court to get them to recognize us."

Referring to the legislation that received the queen's approval last month he said: "The only way forward for us now is to make a challenge in the courts against the Church."

The couple own a company based in Essex called the British Surrogacy Centre. It recently opened a branch in Los Angeles.

The new law stipulates that no religious denomination will be forced to carry out such services.

But that's not good enough for the couple.

"We need to convince the church that it is the right thing for our community for them to recognize us as practicing Christians," said Drewitt-Barlow.

"It upsets me because I want it so much - a big lavish ceremony, the whole works. I am a Christian - a practicing Christian - my children have all been brought up as Christians and are part of the local parish church in Danbury."

Neither the Church of England nor the Roman Catholic Church recognizes gay marriages. Other religious groups, including Orthodox Jews, Hindus and Sikhs do not perform such marriages.

Some religious bodies, including Quakers, Unitarians and Reform Jews, say they plan to conduct same-sex weddings when the law goes into effect next year.

The threat of court action against the established Church of England - whose supreme governor is Queen Elizabeth II - has provoked a strong reaction from the Coalition for Marriage, which led opposition to the bill.

Director Colin Hart said Drewitt_Barlow's comments clearly shows that churches are certain to face litigation.

In a statement, he said: "The ink's not even dry on the bill and churches are already facing litigation. We warned Mr. Cameron (Britain's prime minister) this would happen, we told him he was making promises that he couldn't possibly keep. He didn't listen. . Mr. Cameron's chickens are coming home to roost and it will be ordinary people with a religious belief who yet again fall victim to the totalitarian forces of political correctness."

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  • , 2013-08-07 00:31:16

    These guys are going to set back marriage equality by years. you are not going to change a church by forcing things you.change it from inside. or by example. many churches do accept go to one of those for a wedding. litigation will turn many middle of the roaders squarely against equality, as religious freedom is threatened. This will be used against marriage equality for years to come.

  • , 2013-08-07 23:09:20

    Has anyone noticed that "Christians" keep claiming they are victims whenever things don’t go their way? But for some reason they think it’s okay to discriminate against people they have decided are "different" from themselves. So I guess it’s okay for them to victimize others. Didn’t Christ say something about he who throws the first stone..... So if you’re a Christian I guess it’s okay to pick and choose the lessons from the bible that apply to them. But everyone else is judged by every lesson. How very privileged.

  • Wayne M., 2013-08-08 20:32:14

    There is absolutely no reason or justification to force any church or religious group to act against their own teachings and beliefs. As a Christian, I can testify that there are other churches who would gladly celebrate the marriage of same-sex couples. Furthermore, LGBT leaders never have made requiring churches to marry same-sex couples part of the campaign for marriage equality. The goal is to protect and defend the rights of LGBT people without infringing on the rights of others.

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