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May 18, 2018

“Stop the excuses and give choice to all” said Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan before the Supreme Court hearing

Speaking before the Supreme Court hearing on Monday, Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan,  called on the Government to “stop making excuses and open up civil partnerships to everyone now.”

Speaking outside the Supreme Court before their case begins – surrounded by supporters from across the country – Rebecca and Charles said:

“Throughout our campaign we have met hundreds of couples like us who love each other and want a civil partnership so they can celebrate their commitment and strengthen the security of their family unit.   Their reasons for not wanting to marry vary from bad personal experiences to expense to conscience – but that doesn’t matter.  All they want is the choice of marriage or a civil partnership to suit them, which is currently available only to same-sex couples.  We have a new Equalities Minister and she should take this opportunity to look afresh at the Government’s position.   It’s time for the Government to stop making excuses which play with people’s lives, and give choice to all now.”

A Spokesperson for Stonewall, the leading LGBT campaigning organisation, Paul Twocock, said:

“Of the two ways the Government can end the current inequality between same-sex and different-sex couples, the only option we believe is open to Government is to extend civil partnerships to all.  The alternative – abolishing civil partnerships – would be unacceptable to those same-sex couples who still choose a civil partnership rather than marriage, as well as to the thousands who formed a civil partnership before same-sex marriage was an option and do not want to convert it into a marriage.”

Tim Loughton, Conservative MP for East Worthing and Shoreham, who is piloting a Private Members Bill through Parliament to address the issue, added:

“I applaud the perseverance of Charles and Rebecca in taking their case all the way to the Supreme Court. The Court of Appeal made it quite clear that the Government should address the clear inequality within the law and bring forward appropriate legislation to make the necessary change. My Bill gives the Government that opportunity and I urge the new Equalities Minister not to waste taxpayers money on expensive court cases and instead to use my bill to extend civil partnerships to all”.

Louise Whitfield, Solicitor at Deighton Pierce Glynn Ltd and acting on behalf of Charles and Rebecca, explained:

“This is a case of blatant inequality and while the Government has consistently asked for time to address it, the bottom line is that it is now five years since it was introduced.  It brings the law into disrepute if such self-evident discrimination is allowed to continue whatever the circumstances.”

The Equalities office had published a command paper at the end of the previous week, setting out its research into the future of civil partnerships and confirming that “At the earliest, we would anticipate being able to consult on the future operation of civil partnerships in 2020,” almost certainly ruling out legislation in this Parliament, despite the Court of appeal ruling.

The hearing lasted one day instead of the tabled day and a half with judgment expected in a couple of months.

May 13, 2018

Government faces Supreme Court showdown over opposite-sex couples’ right to Civil Partnerships

On Monday 14th May 2018, the Supreme Court will hear the case of Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan.  The outcome of the case could affect 3.3 million unmarried couples in England and Wales.

Charles and Rebecca will be available for photographs and will make a short statement in front of the Supreme Court (in Parliament Square, London SW1P 3BD) at 9.45am on Monday 14th May, before their case begins.

They are expected to make a direct appeal to the Equalities Minister to support the extension of civil partnerships to all, following the High Court ruling last year that the current inequality was unsustainable.

They will be joined outside the Court by supporters of the Equal Civil Partnerships campaign, including Tim Loughton, Conservative MP for East Worthing and Shoreham, who is piloting a private members bill through Parliament which could be used to end the inequality (Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths [Registration etc] Bill 2017-2019), and LGBT campaigners concerned that the Government says it is actively considering abolishing civil partnerships altogether in a regressive attempt to achieve equality.

Since 2013, same sex couples have been able to choose between marriage or civil partnership, but the Government has resisted calls to extend this right to opposite sex couples.

Rebecca and Charles have been pursuing a change in the law through the Courts since 2014.  In February 2017, the Court of Appeal ruled that the current position could not continue indefinitely, but, by a 2:1 split decision, gave the Government limited time to decide on the future status of civil partnerships.  In August 2017, the couple was granted the right to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, Tim Loughton’s private members bill passed its second reading in the House of Commons this February.  But over a year since the Government first argued to the Courts they needed time to research demand, they have done nothing.