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Couple lose civil partnership challenge

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A couple have lost their legal bid to redefine civil partnerships to include heterosexual couples.

Charles Keidan and Rebecca Steinfeld, from London, appeared at the Court of Appeal yesterday to challenge a previous High Court ruling against them.

Keidan and Steinfeld, who have said that they want to be "partners in law", but do not want to get married, say that the current law is discriminatory.

The Court ruled against them.

'Deep-rooted' ideological objections to marriage

Keidan, 40, and Steinfeld, 35, are both academics who have been in a relationship for six years and have a 20-month-old daughter.

But they have "deep-rooted" ideological objections to marriage.

Crowdfunding raised £35,000 in aid of the couple’s legal battle. The rest of the costs were funded by the couple’s own savings and other donations.

Giving government 'more time'

The BBC's legal affairs correspondent, Clive Coleman, said that the couple had lost by the "narrowest of margins".

He said that yesterday’s ruling was based on the Court’s wanting the government to have more time to consider the issue.

"The government's 'wait and see' policy, which is based on looking at the take-up of same-sex civil partnerships, was found by Lady Justice Arden not to be not good enough to address the discrimination faced by heterosexual couples,” he said.

"However, her fellow judges were prepared to let the government have a little more time and so the case was lost on that issue alone."

Couple to continue challenge

The couple said that they will take their challenge to the Supreme Court.  

Ms Steinfeld said: "We lost on a technicality - that the government should be allowed a little more time to make a decision.

"So there's everything to fight for, and much in the ruling that gives us reason to be positive and keep going."

Mr Keidan said: "The Court of Appeal has made it clear the status quo cannot continue.

"The government should now recognise the benefits of opening civil partnerships to mixed-sex couples."

Right decision for wrong reasons

Commenting on the result, Andrea Williams, Chief Executive of Christian Concern, said:

"The Court of Appeal made the right decision yesterday, but for the wrong reasons.

"Marriage has already been diluted by the introduction of civil partnerships and then the redefinition of ‘marriage’ for same-sex couples, as well as the availability of divorce.

"The government does not need more time to see that all legal unions other than marriage are a poor imitation.

"It should not be considering extending civil partnerships to all. Instead, it ought to be focusing its energy on protecting marriage between a man and a woman, as the proven ideal for a flourishing society." 

Related Links: 
Christian judge slams heterosexual civil partnership ruling
Heterosexual couple lose civil partnership challenge (BBC) 
Couple launches next stage of civil partnership challenge 
Isle of Man introduces heterosexual civil partnerships 
First 'heterosexual civil partnership' in Isle of Man 
Parliamentary call for 'no-fault' divorce