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Clarke & Son Blog

The Keidan & Steinfeld Case

Hi there.!

In my first Blog entry I mentioned the case of Charles Keidan and Rebecca Steinfeld, a couple who had begun a 2 day Judicial Review challenging the government’s failure to offer civil partnerships to heterosexual couples. Currently the law only allows civil partnership for same sex couples and was created as a way of protecting couples who could not benefit from the same protections as marriage.  Of course since then same sex marriage has now become law and same sex couples have the choice of protecting their relationships through civil partnerships or  civil marriage.

In case you haven’t been surfing the family law websites regularly here is a very brief background to the matter. Keidan and Steinfeld are a young, ideological couple in a committed long-term relationship and have a child together. They wanted to formalise their relationship but have ideological objections to the institution of marriage and sought instead to enter into a civil partnership, a status which they consider reflects their values and gives due recognition to the equality of their relationship.  When this was denied to them they took the matter to court asking for a review of the Civil Partnership Act 2004.

Last week Mrs Justice Andrews’ judgement was released in which she rejected their claim on the grounds that in the same way that the UK was under no obligation to extend marriage to same-sex couples, it is under no obligation to extend civil partnership to heterosexual couples. This was result was not surprising – the responsibility of deciding whether or not a law should be reviewed is usually passed upwards to a panel of senior judges.  A bit like passing the buck really. Keidan and Steinfeld have therefore been given permission to appeal this decision and see if more senior judges believe it would be in the interest of the country to review this law.

Of course there is always the possibility that the Civil Partnership Act 2004 (Amendment) Bill, proposed as a Private Members Bill by Tim Loughton, which also addresses the same issue will progress at a faster pace than the Courts. Its second reading is due on 11 March 2016 and if it this is accepted may make any further appeals unnecessary.

For the moment heterosexual couples who do not want to enter into a civil marriage have no way of either recognising their commitment to each other or protecting themselves financially.

Watch this space!

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