Although Emilio Menendez and Carlos Baturin have been together for 30 years and were the first gay couple to get married in Spain when the law was changed last year, their “family” will not be welcome at the Catholic World Meeting of Families this weekend in Valencia.

The Vatican has branded gay marriages an “eclipse of God”.

Pope Benedict XVI will be visiting the meeting this weekend, and is likely to reiterate the Catholic Church’s official views. He has opposed gay unions as being “anarchic” and has said that heterosexual marriage should be the “pillar of humanity.”

Mr Menendez and Mr Baturin have spoken out about their feelings of exclusion from this definition of “family”. The couple, who are famous for their marriage in Spain, often get stopped in the streets to be congratulated, or, more rarely, opposed, and they felt that it was time to use their public profile to make a stand.

Mr Baturin said: “we are a family, we feel like a family, the public accepts us as a family. “If (the Catholic Church) specifically wants to exclude us, well then I don’t want to go their party!”

Since the law was changed in Spain, 4,500 couples have got married, and 50 have applied to adopt children. Clearly the idea of what a family is, is changing, despite the Church’s inherent conservatism.

Although Mr Menendez was baptised he is no longer a practising Catholic. He commented that the attitude of the Catholic Church towards his family until did not surprise him; “The Church is very, very, very slow — four, five, six centuries behind. Give it time”.

“What defines a family is the desire to stay together and love each other. Christ said that the most important commandment was to love each other. That’s what I say too.”