Denying a heterosexual couple their right to civil partnership is discrimination, court hears

Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan

Rebecca Steinfeld, 37, and Charles Keidan fight for a civil parternship

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Stopping a heterosexual couple from having a civil partnership amounts to discrimination and means “they cannot marry conformable with their conscience” the Supreme Court has been told.

The claim came as Karon Monaghan QC made her opening arguments before the court’s president Baroness Hale and a panel of five judges in a one-day hearing.

The case was brought by London couple Rebecca Steinfeld, 37, and Charles Keidan, 41. The couple had their 2017 challenge defeated in the Court of Appeal but were given permission to proceed to the Supreme Court and their appeal began yesterday after the pair crowdfunded their legal battle.

According to The Guardian, Monaghan said that her clients “have deep-rooted and genuine ideological objections to marriage.”

“I want to observe that they are not alone in holding those deep-rooted objections.”

Before the hearing, Steinfeld and Keidan, from West London, urged equalities minister Penny Mordaunt to heed the changing tide of sentiment towards marriage.

They said: “We have met hundreds of couples like us who love each other and want a civil partnership so they can celebrate their commitment and strengthen the security of their family unit.”

“It’s time for the government to stop making excuses which play with people’s lives, and give choice to all now,” they continued.

Under current law, heterosexual couples are banned from entering into civil partnerships by the Civil Partnership Act 2004, which states that only same-sex couples are allowed to form this type of union.

The case comes amid reports that the government has considered abolishing civil partnerships entirely to avoid further legal claims of discrimination, a move that was described as “inflammatory” by Martin Loat, the Chair of the Equal Civil Partnerships Group.

Speaking to Julia Hartley-Brewer about the case on the talkRadio breakfast show today he said: “The genie is out of the bottle. [Civil partnerships are] an institution that's been created, it exists, it doesn’t cost the government anything, and it’s a much lighter and more contemporary way of expressing a legal union between two people. We think it should be extended.

“What we’re talking about is freedom and equality.”

Hartley-Brewer contended that civil partnerships were redundant now that equality of marriage had been extended and disputed Monaghan’s quote from court that marriage is “patriarchal”.

“What’s patriarchal? There’s nothing patriarchal about my marriage, what on earth is about patriarchal about the one they don’t want?” she queried.

The case concluded yesterday and a ruling is expected some time in the summer.