THE Church of England is specifically banned by law from offering same sex-marriages under the new law which legalises civil weddings.

Other faiths have been told they can “opt in” and offer ceremonies if they choose to, thought some churches, notably the Roman Catholic church, remain implacably opposed.

Father Dominic Howarth, parish priest of Our Lady and All Saints, in Basildon, said while the Catholic church celebrated love, in all its forms, it only endorsed traditional marriages involving a man and a woman.

He explained: “We believe in the tradition that goes back many thousands of years – throughout Christian and Jewish history – of marriage as a union blessed by God, between one man, and one woman, for life.

“For that reason, same-sex marriages cannot be celebrated in our churches.

“As a local priest, I know there can be a lot of struggles in family life, and no one should ever feel judged or excluded. Everyone is welcome in our churches, and I hope and believe everyone is met with love and kindness, whatever their situation.”

For long-serving Tory Castle Point councillor Cliff Brunt, David Cameron’s insistence of legalising same-sex marriage, was a step too far. He decided not to stand for election again in May, citing his party’s policy on gay marriage as a key reason.

Mr Brunt, who has represented Victoria ward, in Hadleigh, for ten years, spoke out when the law was passed by the coalition government.

He said: “It was a sad for day for this country when it was passed. I am a Christian and my view is marriage should be between a man and a woman.”