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This couple say they are discriminated against because they are straight

The couple want a civil partnership and not a marriage.

Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London.
Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London.
Image: Charlotte Ball

A HETEROSEXUAL COUPLE in the UK who claim they are discriminated against because of their sexuality say they will continue to fight to get a civil partnership.

Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan lost their case in the Court of the Appeal by a majority of two to one even though the court decided their human rights have been breached.

The couple have a 20-month-old daughter and want to formalise their relationship but told the court they have “deep-rooted and genuine ideological objections to marriage”.

They consider the institution of marriage to have a “historically patriarchal nature” and feel a civil partnership would better,

reflect their values and give due recognition to the equal nature of their relationship.

Since the UK’s introduction of same-sex marriage in March 2014, same-sex couples have had the choice of entering either into a civil partnership or a marriage.

Opposite-sex couples do not have the option of a civil partnership and the appellant couple have taken legal action against this bar.

After same-sex marriage was introduced, the UK government decided against extending civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples.

Instead, it is taking a ‘wait and see’ approach to determine the future of civil partnerships. It has noted that civil partnerships have declined since marriage rights were extended to same-sex couples.

The High Court had previously ruled against the couple and they had appealed the verdict to the Court of Appeal.

In its ruling, all three of the judges determined that the rights of Steinfeld and Keidan had been breached by the bar of opposite-sex civil partnerships.

Two of the judges determined, however, that the government’s ‘wait and see’ approach was sufficient and lawful. Only one of the judges deemed it was not.

Given that the judges largely agreed with their arguments and they lost by such a slim margin, the couple told reports outside the court that they intend to fight on.

“We lost so narrowly that there’s everything to fight for. All three of the judges agreed that we are being treated differently because of our sexual orientation and that this impacts our family life. All three rejected the arguments that we could just get married,” Steinfeld said.

Her partner added:

We are determined to go on. Opening up civil partnerships to all is fair, popular and will be good to families and children across the country. There are over three million mixed-sex couples who are cohabiting and over two million dependent children. This is the fasted growing family type but these couples lack legal and financial security. And I think many would agree that this would be a right.

Read: Gay priest marries long-term partner in ‘beautiful’ ceremony in Clare >

Read: ‘People were forced to live in the same house for years’: Two decades of divorce in Ireland >

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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