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Civil partnerships for straight couples challenge to proceed

A couple have been granted permission to proceed with a legal challenge against the government’s refusal to allow civil partnerships for straight couples.

Following a public consultation, the government announced last summer that the option to enter a civil partnership would not be extended beyond same sex couples. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport said the majority of the responses it had received had opposed such an extension but had also opposed retiring civil partnership legislation following the legalisation of gay marriage in July 2013.

It declared:

“Given the lack of consensus on the way forward, the Government will not be making any changes.”

In December last year London couple Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan launched a legal challenge to the government’s decision. The couple are opposed to conventional marriage, which they believe is ‘patriarchal’ and contrary to feminist principles.

Following their engagement, the couple had sought a civil partnership but they were turned away by their local registrar because they are not a same sex couple.

Steinfeld and Keidan have now been given permission to proceed with their legal challenge. High Court Judge Mrs Justice Elisabeth Laing also issued an order limiting the couple’s liability for legal costs in the event that their challenge proves unsuccessful.

Unsurprisingly, the couple have welcomed the Judge’s decision. Rebecca Steinfeld told Pink News said the ruling was a “significant milestone” and indicated “public interest” in the issue.

“We again urge the Minister for Equalities, Nicky Morgan MP, to avoid the need for costly legal action by introducing a simple amendment…”

She added:

“For us, as for thousands of other opposite-sex couples, entering into a civil partnership would be a serious, lifelong commitment that will give us the legal rights and responsibilities that we need to protect ourselves and our families while formalising our relationship within a modern social institution.”

The couple’s campaign has received support from gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell and education campaigner Fiona Millar amongst others. An online petition has attracted close to 3,000 signatures.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. Andrew says:

    “an order limiting the couple’s liability for legal costs in the event that their challenge proves unsuccessful”

    So if they lose the taxpayer is out of pocket?

    That is not justice.

    Litigation where whoever initiates the claim is not liable for the other party’s costs in full – secured by cash in court or insurance – is nothing more or less than high-class legalised blackmail.

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