Couple takes fight for straight civil partnerships to High Court

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A straight couple who are fighting for the right to be allowed to have a civil partnership, rather than a wedding, are taking their case to the High Court this week.

Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan are issuing their grounds of challenge and witness statements to the High Court tomorrow morning.

The couple last December announced their engagement in a newspaper, but said that they would get civilly partnered rather than married, in order to push for full marriage equality.

Arguing that marriage is not currently equal, as civil partnerships are available to same-sex couples but not opposite-sex, the couple say they do not wish to enter a formal union which brings with it the traditions of marriage.

The couple recently wrote on PinkNews explaining their reasons for wanting to extend civil partnerships to straight couples.

Charles Keidan said: “We are calling on the Government Equalities Office to end the clear and present discrimination that prevents long-term cohabiting opposite-sex couples like ourselves from becoming civil partners. For us, entering into a civil partnership is a serious lifelong commitment and will give us the legal rights, protections and responsibilities that we need and desire.”

Rebecca Steinfeld added: “Legalising same-sex marriage was the recognition that everyone is of equal worth and has the right to equal treatment under the law. We campaigned for such recognition and we believe that the same principle of equality applies to all couples, regardless of sexual orientation. ”

They hope for a new way for all couples to be able to formalise their commitment to one another without the historical “baggage” of marriage, and to be able to enter into an institution which has always strived to be inclusive, rather than excluding minority groups.

The couple are strong advocates of equal marriage for same-sex couples, and helped to set up the Facebook page ‘British Jews for Equal Marriage’, and Jews4Equality on Twitter, both of which push for same-sex marriage in Britain. They are also supporters of Keshet UK, which champions the inclusion of LGBTQI people in all areas of Jewish life.

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell will attend the court with the couple at 10.30am on Tuesday 23 December.

Peter Tatchell said: “In a democracy, we should all be equal before the law. Denying opposite-sex couples the right to have a civil partnership is just as wrong as denying same-sex couples the right to marry. We now have a situation where gay couples have two options, civil marriage or civil partnership, whereas heterosexual couples have only one option, marriage. This anomaly is unfair discrimination and could be easily remedied by opening up civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples, as has happened in many other countries.”