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Heterosexual couple lose civil partnership challenge

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The couple who claimed that heterosexual partners should have the same right to a civil partnership as same-sex couples have lost their case in the High Court but have vowed to continue the fight.

Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan, who have been in a committed relationship since 2002 asked for a judicial review of the Civil Partnership Act 2004, which stipulates that only same-sex couples are eligible for the partnership.

Despite losing, the pair, who say they have “deep-rooted” ideological objections to the institution of marriage, have been given leave to appeal by the judge in their case, who said that while their claim must fail, she believed that the challenge raised issues of “wider importance”.

After the ruling Dr Steinfeld that she and her partner had made the claim because the UK Government is barring them and many thousands of opposite-sex couples from the choice of forming a civil partnership and was disappointed that the judge “concluded otherwise”. They said it was unfair that gay couples could marry and enter into civil partnerships while heterosexual couples could only marry.

However, Mrs Justice Andrew explained that she had decided so because she did “not accept” that the enactment of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 had caused restrictions under the Civil Partnership Act on opposite-sex couples entering into a civil partnership “to become unlawful”.

Moreover, one of the Government’s arguments is that now same-sex couples can marry, civil partnerships might be abolished or phased out, so changing the legislation before then would be “costly and complex”.

The judge concurred, saying that the Government’s decision to wait and see “serves the legitimate aim of avoiding the unnecessary disruption and the waste of time and money that plunging into a programme of legislative reform without waiting is likely to produce”. Consequently, she felt she had no option but to fail the claim for judicial review.