A gay couple in Essex say they still intend to start legal proceedings so they can get married in church.

Tony and Barrie Drewitt-Barlow first announced they would challenge laws restricting same-sex couples from being able to marry in churches belonging to the Church of England in December last year. 

As part of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act, which was signed into law for England and Wales last month, the Church of England can only marry same-sex couples if it decides to “opt in” to the legislation and change Canon law – a move which the Church categorically refuses to do.

“The government is attempting to enshrine discrimination in law against people just because they are gay,” said Barrie Drewitt-Barlow in December.

“Like many couples, we look forward to being married in our local church, the same church, where our children were baptised. Now we are to be banned in law because we are gay, even if the vicar wanted to marry us”.

He added: “It’s not just about human rights; it’s about doing what is right?”

This week Barry Drewitt-Barlow told the Essex Chronicle: “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 recognise us.”

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.

“As much as people are saying this is a good thing I am still not getting what I want.”

Tony and Barrie Drewitt-Barlow made headlines in 1999 when they became one of the first gay couples in the UK to have children through a surrogate mother.