High court gives its backing to straight couple civil partnerships case

A couple from London who launched a legal challenge against the ban on heterosexual civil partnerships has been granted permission to continue with their claim by a High Court judge.

Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan want members of the opposite sex to be able to enter into civil partnerships – something the Prime Minister previously suggested would undermine the institution of marriage.

Miss Steinfeld said: “We think that everybody should be treated equally under the law. As it stands in the UK (if you are a same sex couple) you can chose whether or not to enter into a marriage or a civil partnership. If you are an opposite sex couple you don’t have that choice, and if you want to access the legal rights and responsibilities and protections – you have to get married.”

Mr Keidan said: “We would never suggest that people shouldn’t be able to get married – so why should there be a suggestion that we should be unable to form a civil partnership simply because we are an opposite sex couple, particularly because it is important to be part of an organisation which is modern and reflects who we are as a couple.”

Differences between marriage and civil partnerships under the existing law include how they are registered. In a marriage, the names of the fathers of both parties are registered on the marriage certificate. In a civil partnership, both parents’ names are recorded for both members of the couple.

Speaking at the time they launched their campaign Miss Steinfeld cited the “sexist trappings” of marriage as one of their reasons: “Our objection to marriage is partly to do with its history, a union in which women were exploited for their domestic and sexual services. There are still sexist trappings to weddings: there’s only space for the father to sign on the registry form”, she said.

But some groups strongly oppose the idea of civil partnerships for heterosexuals. Andrea Williams from Christian Concern said: “Anything other than marriage undermines for everyone what marriage is. As a matter of policy at government level we should be promoting marriage.”

The Government has previously rejected the idea, and also acknowledged that the change would cost £3-4 billion in public sector pensions alone.