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A heterosexual couple fighting for the right to enter into a civil partnership are taking a test case to Britain’s highest court.
Rebecca Steinfeld, 36, and Charles Keidan, 40, want to secure legal recognition of their relationship without getting married. However, only same-sex couples are eligible under the Civil Partnership Act 2004.
The academics, who live in Hammersmith, west London, suffered defeat at the Court of Appeal in February, but declared afterwards that there was still “everything to fight for”. They have now been granted permission for their case to be heard at the Supreme Court, the Equal Civil Partnerships Campaign said in a statement.
The couple, who have a daughter and another child on the way, claim the government’s position is “incompatible with equality law”. Keidan said that “the incredible support from many thousands of people who have signed our petition and backing from MPs across the political spectrum has enabled us to come this far.
“What started out as a personal effort to become civil partners has taken on wider significance as we realised that as many as 3.3 million co-habiting couples are affected by the status quo.
“Over the last few years, we’ve heard the same message: whilst most couples want financial and legal protection for themselves and their families, not all feel comfortable with marriage.
“Civil partnerships offer a legally binding arrangement that is fair, popular and good for families and children.”
Louise Whitfield, the couple’s solicitor from the London law firm Deighton Pierce Glynn, described the case as “another significant step in the journey to achieve equal civil partnerships for all, and the court’s decision to grant permission recognises the great public importance of this issue”.
Graeme Fraser, partner in the family department at the fellow London firm Hunters Solicitors, said: “Given the increasing number of people in relationships choosing not to marry, or enter into legal formalities before or during their relationship, this should not detract from the more pressing issue: providing protection and support through legislative reform to cohabitants left financially vulnerable upon relationship breakdown, in particular those who have been financially disadvantaged by the relationship to care for children.”
The Equal Civil Partnerships Campaign said that a change in the law to allow mixed-sex civil partnerships had wide backing, with more than 72,000 signatures on its petition for change.