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High Court rejects couple’s challenge to civil partnership law

    Charles Keidan and Rebecca Steinfeld
    Charles Keidan and Rebecca Steinfeld

    A Jewish couple have lost their bid to make civil partnerships legal for heterosexual partners.

    Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan launched a judicial review in December 2013 after refusing to enter what they saw as the sexist institution of marriage.

    The couple used an crowdfunding website to raise £27,000 from friends and members of the public, funding their legal challenge to the 2004 law, which only allows civil partnerships for same-sex couples.

    In a ruling in the High Court today, Mrs Justice Andrews told the couple she was sympathetic to their case, but could not find in their favour.

    The judge told Ms Steinfeld and Mr Keidan, who have an eight-month-old daughter, that “it is unfair that a route to state recognition of their relationship which is open to a same-sex couple… remains unavailable to them because they are heterosexual.”

    But, comparing their cause to that of the gay rights movement which achieved marriage equality in Britain in the last few years, she added: “The denial of a further means of formal recognition which is open to same-sex couples does not amount to unlawful state interference with the Claimants’ right to family life or private life, any more than the denial of marriage to same-sex couples did prior to the enactment of the 2013 Act.

    “Just as the UK was under no obligation to extend marriage to same-sex couples, it has never been under an obligation to extend civil partnership to heterosexual couples.”

    Despite dismissing their case, the judge gave the couple permission to take their case to the Court of Appeals, telling them that their cause had “wider importance”.

    Ms Steinfeld, 34, called the decision “unfortunate,” but vowed to continue the fight, saying: “We wish to form a civil partnership because that captures the essence of our relationship and values.

    “Civil partnerships are a modern social institution conferring almost identical legal rights and responsibilities as marriage, but without its history and social expectations. We don’t think there is sufficient justification for stopping us or other opposite-sex couples from forming civil partnerships.”

    Magazine editor Mr Keidan, 39, called on Parliament to “demonstrate its commitment to creating a level playing field for all its citizens by extending civil partnerships to same-sex and opposite-sex couples alike.”

    He added: “We believe that opening civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples would complete the circle of full relationship equality that began with the hard-won victory for same-sex marriage.”

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