They may have lost this round, but civil partnership campaigners Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan have vowed to continue their fight to enter into a civil partnership.
The couple’s main argument is that whilst same-sex couples have the option of either marrying or committing to each other by way of civil partnership, opposite-sex couples do not. This, they dispute, amounts to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation within the Civil Partnership Act 2004 and does not comply with their human rights.
The Guardian reports that the couple is vehemently opposed to marriage, although they do want to make a formal commitment to each other. The pair explains their reason for this as their perception of marriage as a “patriarchal” institution – a view held by thousands of other opposite-sex and same-sex couples.
Certainly, finance is not the issue surrounding this debate. There is now little difference in the legal and financial benefits granted to same-sex couples in both marriages and civil partnerships. However, as we can see in this instance, opposite-sex couples who do not wish to marry remain financially more vulnerable.
The hearing, in front of Mrs Justice Andrews, saw the case dismissed on the basis of her opinion that the couple was not being denied the rights and benefits provided by marriage. Nor, she stated, did the inability to choose another option of formalising their relationship amount to unlawful state interference with their right to family life or private life. However, Mrs Justice Andrews did recognise the potential importance of this case, and she permitted Ms Steinfeld and Mr Keidan, who have a nine month old baby, to take their case to the Court of Appeal.
The ruling left a number of groups and human rights campaigners disappointed, yet hopeful that the forthcoming appeal hearing will bring England and Wales one step closer towards formally recognising civil partnerships among opposite-sex couples.