Barrie Drewitt-Barlow and Tony Drewitt-Barlow are two Englishmen who are married according to English law, which allows same-sex civil marriages. Unsatisfied with equality before the law, the pair plan to take legal action to force Christian churches to host same-sex weddings. Barrie said, “I am still not getting what I want,” according to the Essex Chronicle – an English daily. In July, with broad support from the major political parties in England, a bill sponsored by the ruling coalition government legalized same-sex marriage but it included measures to protect churches from being forced to perform them.
Of the situation, Barrie said that the only way forward for himself and his partner is to challenge churches in civil court. “It is a shame that we are forced to take Christians into a court to get them to recognize us.” Barrie added that he is looking forward to his big day as a bride, with “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.”
It was Barrie and Tony who were the first same-sex partners in Britain to be named on their children’s birth certificates in 1999. In 2006, the pair entered into a civil partnership. According to news reports, Barrie has donated approximately 500,000 British pounds to lobby for same-sex marriage.
Lobbying efforts by same-sex marriage advocates have been largely successful. While the Church of England, the official church of the country, has often been cast as more gay-friendly than the Roman Catholic Church, a leading figure of the denomination who cautioned that government plans to re-define marriage would leave the Church of England open to adverse legal proceedings. Earlier this year, Prime Minister David Cameron, a Tory, was sent a copy of the legal opinion by Lord Carey, a former Archbishop of Canterbury and leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
Crispin Blunt, a member of parliament and a former Justice Minister, averred that the British government’s plans would indeed bring about legal issues, saying the government is “seeking to protect, indeed, proscribe religious organizations from offering gay marriage”, but added “That may be problematic legally.”
Undeterred by changes in the government definition of marriage, the new Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said recently that popular opinion on the issue is “not a case for changing obedience to God.” A former businessman and petroleum corporation executive, Archbishop Welby said to a conference of 6000 people at a Christian conference it would be “foolish” to ignore the “revolution” caused by same-sex marriage.
Archbishop Welby voted against same-sex marriage in the House of Lords and claims he heard the “roar of revolution” while listening to the debate about the legislation. He noted that support for the government’s bill bridged all parties in the deliberative body. He also said that Christian churches must realize that an overwhelming change in cultural attitudes is afoot. While he insisted that the Anglican Church will not change its teachings about sexual ethics, he added that more should be done to protect homosexuals. For example, The Daily Telegraph reported that Welby has conferred with a gay advocacy group, Stonewall, for help in developing a catechism for schools operated by the Church of England.
Nonetheless, Archbishop Welby said during debate in the House of Lords that because of the Same Sex Marriage bill, marriage would be “abolished, redefined and recreated.” Welby warned that “confusion” was being created by the law, while basic aspects of marriage would be “lost”, “diminished” or “weakened.”
Not deterred by ecclesiastical warnings, Prime Minister David Cameron partied recently with same-sex advocates who met him at his Downing Street residence. Indeed, Cameron said he wants to promote same-sex marriage in other countries.
At the party to celebrate the passage of the same-sex marriage bill, Cameron boasted about the speed with which he rushed the legislation through Parliament. He promised that he will send a team of civil servants across the globe to show how it is done. This is just the beginning, said Cameron, who wants to see a gay agenda promoted in schools. At the Downing Street party Cameron said “I’ve told the bill team I’m now going to reassign them because, of course, all over the world people would have been watching this piece of legislation.” He added, “We’ve set something, I think, of an example of how to pass good legislation in good time. Many other countries are going to want to copy this.”
“So I’m going to export the bill team. I think they can be part of this global race and take it around the world,” he added.
Critics say that Cameron’s tactics are driving fellow Tories and traditionalists into the arms of political parties such as the UK Independence Party, which describes itself as democratic and libertarian. It is also distinctively unfriendly to the European Union. In November 2012, David Coburn of UKIP's National Executive Committee said that the UKIP supports civil partnerships for same-sex couples, but opposes legalization of same-sex marriage out of concern that religious denominations and places of worship would be forced to perform same-sex marriages