So no one will force churches to perform same sex marriages then

Barrie Drewitt-Barlow, 44, said he and his partner Tony, 49, believe the “only way forward” for them may be to challenge the Church in court for denying them the right to marry.

The couple, who have been in a civil partnership for seven years and have five children through surrogacy, describe themselves as practising Christians who regularly attend their local parish in Danbury, Essex.

Mr Drewitt-Barlow said that while he welcomed the passing of legislation for same-sex marriage, provisions exempting churches from performing the weddings meant they still felt discriminated against.

He told the Essex Chronicle: “It is a shame that we are forced to take Christians into a court to get them to recognise us.”

The Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act, which received royal assent last month, contains a so-called “quadruple lock” of legal provisions designed to protect churches which chose not to conduct same–sex weddings from being sued.

I\’ve no idea whether they will succeed in their suit: but they\’re certainly giving it a go, aren\’t they?

33 thoughts on “So no one will force churches to perform same sex marriages then”

  1. Personally I can’t understand why gay people would choose Christianity, at least in a secular country like the UK. It just seems like they’re setting themselves up.

  2. So they’re in a civil partnership: in any meaningful practical sense that’s all civil rights protected.
    They can get married: they already could call themselves married, but this would require their married status to be acknowledged in Law.
    They are now fighting for the right, the right, the require their church to declare their marriage valid, on its own terms; not just in Law.
    Well, I don’t recognise them as married. I say they’re not married to each other, can’t be.
    Now, who on this blog thinks I should be forced to recognise them as married?

  3. Well, it was entirely predictable. The inevitable pair of nice suburban middle-aged middle-class not-too-camp Stonewall gays. Quelle surprise.

    “Barrie Drewitt-Barlow DipSW, CertHE, Head of Social Work

    Without doubt, Barrie is seen as the industry expert in Surrogacy in Europe. A regular on day time TV shows such as This Morning and Lorraine, he is asked to take part in many TV debates regarding surrogacy and areas on same sex parenting. Barrie has been a regular contributer to many top magazine and newspapers for many years now and has recently written his first book as a guide to Surrogacy… and so on and so on…

  4. This is the organisation that gets money off taxpayers for its buildings, right? The one that has special tax exemption? One that gets its senior managers automatically appointed to the highest legislature in the land? Right?

    So they obey the fucking law then, like all other public institutions, not seek special exemption from it. If they don’t like gays they can become a private club and surrender all the cushy benefits of being an organ of the state.

  5. James, they are obeying the Law. Parliament passed a law which allowed exemptions. Therefore they are exempt in Law.

  6. I also can’t help adding the argument, “if you want to get married in the eyes of God, obey the fucking bible and find somebody of the opposite sex to get married to, like everybody else”.


  7. Oh sure, they obey the law they have had written in their favour and passed by the senior managers they get appointed to the legislature.

    The private club thing I am less sure about. Certainly a private club should be free to discriminate against whoever they feel like, and even let people smoke on the premises.

  8. I’ve no idea whether they will succeed in their suit: but they’re certainly giving it a go, aren’t they?

    Well, they’re making noises about it. They made noises about it in December 2012, too.

    AIUI the couple haven’t yet started legal proceedings. I doubt it will even get to court. ISTM they have no chance of success.

  9. ” Certainly a private club should be free to discriminate against whoever they feel like, and even let people smoke on the premises.”

    But they aren’t, are they James, so we come back to the point that what you said was total wank.

  10. Heaven forfend that Barrie and his mate are just attending church so that their surrogate kids can go to the nice CoE primary school and not have to mix with the oiks from the Estate.

  11. “You 10,000 people call yourselves Christians but you’re not. Because you don’t fit the definition of Christian according to me and my mate.” (Perhaps “chum” fits better than “mate”).

    Welcome to the 21st Century.

    In the golden, olden days, Barrie and his friends would have buggered off and founded the Gay Christian Church and they could make up their own rules.

  12. The only action the Church can take is to make it clear that they will not marry gays in churches regardless of what decision the courts may make at any level. Then, if the bluebottles come calling, turn out their followers to “resist”. Even today they could put together many thousands who would be beyond any possibility of jailing. You can envision the rest of the scenario for yourself.
    Do you think for one second that this Stonewall duo would ever convert and try their luck with Islam ?.

  13. No clue why the church won’t allow them to get married in the church. Marries near enough everyone else.
    As has been said, the church at the moment is not acting illegally. Whether someone can get the law changed….

  14. ukliberty,

    I’ll venture that they’ll win because this is a private organisation carrying out an official act under license from the state. You’ve seen what happened when religious charities tried to stop letting gays adopt? Same thing here.

    The UK is different to say, France in this regard. In France, you get married in the Mairie, the town hall. You’re welcome to go to the local church and have it recognised by God, but it has no legal basis. The church is disestablished and has the status of a golf club or a theme park.

    Cameron can say whatever he likes. “Quadruple lock” always sounded like weapons-grade Cameron bullshit.

  15. No clue why the church won’t allow them to get married in the church

    CofE churches are prohibited from opting in to conduct same sex marriages, absent further primary legislation and changes to canon law.

  16. The Stigler, on what grounds or in what way can they win? The church can’t opt-in, discrimination claims under the Equalites Act can’t be brought against organisations or individuals for refusing to conduct such marriages, domestic courts can’t overturn primary legislation, and this is the kind of issue the European Court of Human Rights would bat back to the national government under the ‘margin of appreciation’. What am I missing?

  17. ukliberty,

    Article 14 of ECHR: discrimination.

    Marriage in the UK is now defined as both for straights and gays. Straights have easier access to marriage than gays as they can also get married in church. Therefore the law as it stands is discriminatory against gays.

  18. UKL:

    You forgot:-

    “1. FIRST, We have granted to God, and by this our present Charter have confirmed, for Us and our Heirs for ever, that the Church of England shall be free, and shall have all her whole Rights and Liberties inviolable.”

    If there’s one thing that ECtHR is even less inclined to muck about with than questions of religious belief, it’s constitutional issues and the Church of England’s right to choose not to carry out same-sex marriages is a constitutional matter.

  19. @Ian B, no wank.

    Private organisations are not allowed to discriminate against gays (you’ll note I said should, not can, not that I’d be a fan of their so doing, just bog standard libertarian stuff). Most, indeed all that I am aware of except the CoE likewise cannot discriminate against gays.

    So if that law is good enough for everyone else, why does the CoE get an exemption? If they want to be the official religion of British society they should either submit to the same rules as the rest of us, or their mullahs should call for the law to be changed so everyone can be as anti-gay as they are.

  20. @ Martin Davies and James V
    The Church of England has a duty to consecrate marriage as defined in the Bible, but with a few additional constraints required under English Law. This does not include one man marrying four women (acceptable in most mosques provided that they behave according to the instructions in the Qu’ran) marriage between two people within the forbidden degrees of relationship, “marriage” where one party is already married, marriage between divorces with partners living, marriage between individuals one or both of whom is/are below the age of consent, marriages where one partner does not undertake the required vows, marriage between two people of the same sex, marriage under duress, ….
    The pair of you seem to be blissfully or willfully ignorant.
    The CofE can be accused of age-discrimination and religious discrimination in refusing to marry 14-year-olds and polygamous Muslim marriages and has been harassed by divorcees who think that they have a “right” to be married in Church. BUT civil partnership is not marriage as defined in the Bible (and gay couples cannot honestly undertake some of the vows in the marriage service) so the CofE *cannot* “marry” gay couples and to allege discrimination is, at best, stupid.

  21. The Stigler, ok, skipping through the legal arguments that Article 14 pertains only to Convention rights and while there is a Convention right re marriage is it inclusive of same sex couples, also that that Convention rights must be construed ‘in harmony’ with each other (surely Article 9, freedom of thought, conscience and religion is engaged):

    A domestic court can only issue a declaration of incompatibility, it can’t overturn the law or force the CofE marry same sex couples or force Parliament to change the law. The European Court could, if persuaded say to the UK, “you ought to change the law” but there is no practical means of enforcement. What can the couple win other than that? They don’t win the right to get married in their local church, not unless there is a change to primary legislation and canon law, which only Parliament and the CofE can make.

  22. “but there is no practical means of enforcement.”

    Failure to comply with the ECHR decision could get the UK suspended or expelled from the Council of Europe, and therefore also, the EU.
    Not that I’d mind. But if we are to leave the EU, it should be because of a referendum on EU membership, and not a litigious ambush by a couple of poofters.

  23. Failure to comply with the ECHR decision could get the UK suspended or expelled from the Council of Europe, and therefore also, the EU.

    It could. But, given that there is hardly a consensus among Convention states re same sex couples, and given that the UK hasn’t been suspended or expelled over the 32 cases pending before the Committee that we’ve failed to comply with (e.g. prisoner votes judgement is eight years old this October and that isn’t the oldest), nor has any other member state, it doesn’t seem likely.

    We’re talking about some infinitesimal likelihood: the case has to get to the European Court (which has stated several times it defers to national authorities on matters of same sex marriage, particularly as there is no European consensus), then if the Court finds against the UK, which fails to comply, the Committee of Ministers will act against the UK on this issue? When it hasn’t acted in such a way against other states on, say, torture?

    You really think this couple will cause the UK to be kicked out of the Council or Europe and/or the EU?

  24. >So if that law is good enough for everyone else, why does the CoE get an exemption?

    It *is* good enough for the CoE. The Law of the Land states that a CoE Marriage is between a man and a woman.

    So Tweedledum and Tweedledummer of taking legal action to force a body to perform an illegal action.

    That’ll work.


    Ths problem was that Cameron tripped over his feet on this issue – it is his version of Blair’s Lord Chancellor moment. It is a can of worms and needed to be done carefully.

    There also an “interesting” couple Long-term excluded as Directors after 250k went mssing from their company *after* a winding up order was posted.

  25. I wonder what proportion of the people who tell the press they’re considering taking legal action actually bring their suit to court.

  26. lol at all the petty little homophobes with their panties in a bunch.

    When you are handing out state-approved contracts you don’t get to choose who you hand them out too. The state does. As a state we decided the gays can marry, deal.

  27. The solution is really simple. Grant the CoE independence from the state and say, as we already do, that freely assembling and consenting adults can do in private many things they cannot do in public. Then the CoE can keep its anti-gayer stance like many of the other churches without being grossly offensive to society as an arm of the state that is, exceptionally, allowed to discriminate against gayers.

    This would have the desirable side effect of allowing pub landlords to determine whether they permit their patrons to smoke on the premises too. I commend it to the house.

  28. @JamesV: does this also allow B&B owners to decide who they wish to provide their rooms to? If so I’m all in favour. I’m a firm believer in the concept ‘My gaff, my rules’.

  29. I was less interested in the marriage aspect than I was in “… and have five children through surrogacy”.

  30. The interesting point about this is that, if this case is successful, it will have thoroughly abolished the principle of freedom of faith. I daresay many of the people promoting this crap are atheists and don’t care about that. Well, I’m an atheist, and i care.

    See, if churches are forced to perform these services, they will be forced into betraying what they believe to be God’s will. Their only option then will be to stop performing any marriages, just as Christian adoption agencies had to close down. They won’t even be able to offer blessings of registry office marriages. Effectively, many Christians will then be barred from a Church marriage and unable to be married in the eyes of their God.

    Adoption was just a service the Church agencies provided. But denying Christians the right to a religious marriage… that is a very, very serious step for a government to take, especially on the basis of a philosophy that dates all the way back to, er, the late 1960s.

    This is a very, very serious matter.

  31. “if this case is successful, it will have thoroughly abolished the principle of freedom of faith”

    No. Because the CoE’s status here is unique as an organ of the state. Freedom of faith hasn’t, doesn’t and *can’t* apply to the CoE for as long as that is the case.

    Removing the legal ban that currently prevents the CoE from performing same-sex marriages *even if clergy wish to do so* is not the same as forcing the iman, the rabbi and the priest to marry gays or give up marrying people.

    (not that the case would be successful anyway, for the reasons ukliberty highlights very clearly)

  32. For someone to say that Freedom of Faith can’t apply to the CofE (but can to Judaism and Islam) in order to promote a specious argument claiming to be anti-discrimination should be hilarious.

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