Civil partnerships couple to continue legal battle

Following a split decision in the Court of Appeal, our clients intend to continue their campaign and legal fight to open up civil partnerships to mixed-sex couples.

On 21 February 2017, the Court of Appeal handed down judgment in the case brought by Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan a heterosexual couple who want to be able to enter into a civil partnership. The appeal failed on a very narrow basis, with the judges ruling two to one against Rebecca and Charles. All three judges agreed that they were being treated differently because of their sexual orientation and that this affects their private and family life. All three rejected the argument that they could just get married. All three emphasized that the Government cannot maintain the status quo for much longer.

As our clients explain:

“Lady Justice Arden accepted our case on almost every point. She stated: ‘My overall conclusion: the appellants are right’. In the end though, her fellow judges concluded that the Government should be allowed just a little more time to make a decision. It is on that technicality that we lost by two votes to one. We are deeply disappointed by the ruling and very sorry not to be able to share better news. But there is much in the ruling, together with your incredible support, that gives us reason to be positive and keep going.

We remain determined to go on. Opening civil partnerships to all is fair, popular, and will be good for families and children. Over three million mixed-sex couples, with two million dependent children, cohabit in the UK. Yet this fastest-growing family type lacks legal and financial security. That isn’t right. None of us should be denied recognition or protection because marriage isn’t right for us.

So while the campaign for civil partnerships gains more political support, we plan to challenge this ruling in the Supreme Court. But to do so, we need your help. An appeal to the Supreme Court will cost us at least £20,000. We want to go on, but we don’t have the financial resources to do it alone.

So please, if you can, donate to our legal fund now.

Defeat today is hard to accept. But it has also given us a chance to regroup, rally, and emerge stronger. Together we can make this change possible.”

The couple’s solicitor, Louise Whitfield of DPG commented:

“It is very frustrating indeed that my clients lost their appeal by such a narrow margin on such an important issue, particularly when all three judges readily accepted that there had been a potential violation of their human rights. All three also agreed that the time available to the Government to address the obvious discrimination Charles and Rebecca face is limited.

Lady Justice Arden accepted that time had already run out, whilst her fellow judges were unfortunately prepared to allow the Government a little more time, and thus the appeal was lost on this issue alone. It is therefore clear that the Government must act quickly in any event to deal with the discrimination which the court as a whole recognised could not continue indefinitely and which they agreed is ultimately unsustainable.

We are therefore awaiting an urgent response from the Secretary of State as to her position in response to the judgment, whilst preparing an immediate application for permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.”

Read the Court of Appeal’s split decision on civil partnerships here.