A British heterosexual couple lose bid to have civil partnership instead of marriage
LONDON, ENGLAND, UK (FEBRUARY 21, 2017) (BBC) – A heterosexual British couple who object to what they call the patriarchal nature of marriage narrowly lost a court bid on Tuesday (February 21) to be able to enter into a civil partnership, after judges upheld a ruling that such unions were only eligible to those of the same sex.
Civil partnerships were introduced in Britain in 2004, giving gay couples similar legal rights to those enjoyed by married heterosexuals.
Since 2014, same-sex marriage has also been legal in England, Wales and Scotland, meaning gay couples could choose to get married or enter into a civil partnership.
Rebecca Steinfeld, 35, and her partner Charles Keidan, 40, who have a child, said that meant the law discriminated against heterosexuals like them who wanted a civil partnership rather than to be married.
In a brief statement to reporters outside the court, Rebecca Steinfeld was disappointed at the decision, which she thought they were likely to win.
“My overall conclusion, the appellants are right. Those were the words of Lady Justice Arden and yet we lost our case here today. We are so sorry to tell you all and all our supporters that the Court of Appeal has gone against us. But 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 private and family life. All three rejected the argument that we could just get married. All three emphasised that the government cannot maintain the status quo for much longer, they are on borrowed time,” said civil partnership appellant, Rebecca Steinfeld.
The judges accepted there was a potential breach of the couple’s human rights but by a two-to-one majority said the government should be allowed more time to assess whether civil partnerships should be extended or perhaps even phased out.
“While the campaign for civil partnership gains more political support, we intend to challenge this ruling in the Supreme Court, unless we hear from the government they are going to make a statement and they are going to commit to making the change we so want in the Queen’s speech and we’re really waiting to hear from the government about what they’re going to do, given that the judges have affectedly told them they are on borrowed time,” said civil partnership appellant, Charles Keidan.
Keidan added there were more than three million mixed-sex couple living together with two million dependent children and these couples lacked legal and financial security.
The couple will now challenge the ruling in the Supreme Court, the highest judicial body in Britain, unless the government indicated it would change the existing law.