A London couple has launched a legal challenge against the existing ban on heterosexual civil partnerships.
Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan sought to formalise their relationship ahead of the birth of their first child. As self-described feminists, neither agrees with traditional marriage which they describe as “patriarchal”.
Speaking to The Guardian, Steinfeld said that part of their objection to marriage was its history as “a union in which women were exploited for their domestic and sexual services”. She added that even today there are “sexist trappings to weddings”, citing the fact that mothers cannot sign the registry form.
She said that they wanted a civil partnership because it would give the relationship almost the same legal rights as marriage without the cultural baggage.
According to Keidan, this baggage included “the father giving away his daughter to the groom” and the “virginal” white wedding dress. He added that this was “not the type of relationship we want”.
The couple tried to have a civil ceremony but were turned away by the registrar, who was “very sympathetic” to their situation but, as they were a straight couple, “could not provide a civil partnership”.
Earlier this year, the government announced that, following a consultation on the matter, civil partnerships would not be extended to straight couples.
Subsequently, they applied for a judicial review on their local council in London and Sajid Javid, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.
Civil Partnerships were introduced to give same-sex relationships legal rights before gay marriage was legalised in in 2013. Couples who had already entered into civil partnerships before the introduction of same-sex marriage now have the option to convert their union into a marriage.