CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Couple to launch Supreme Court appeal in bid to win civil partnerships for all

Charles Keidan and Rebecca Stenfield look to crowdfunding to pay for next stage of legal appeal

23 February, 2017 — By Dan Carrier

Charles Keidan and Rebecca Steinfeld

A COUPLE fighting to change the law so they can have a civil partnership instead of getting married are hoping to raise funds to take their case to the Supreme Court.

Charles Keidan, who is from Belsize Park, and his partner Rebecca Steinfeld say they will fight on despite losing a case at the Court of Appeal on Tuesday in which the three judges said the government needed “more time” to decide if civil partnerships should be extended to heterosexual couples.

It is now 13 years since civil partnerships were made available to gay and lesbian couples who want the right to secure legal status for their relationships. Since then, same-sex marriages have been made legal. Mr Keidan and Ms Steinfeld now face paying legal costs of £25,000 and will have to find a similar amount to take their case to the Supreme Court, the next court above the Court of Appeal.

They will be submitting legal papers tomorrow (Friday) for their case to go to the country’s most senior judges to consider. Ms Steinfeld told the New Journal the couple had set up a crowdfunding initiative to try to cover costs, and would not back down in light of the most recent ruling.

She said: “We are very disappointed because we have come so close and the judges agreed on so much. It was a split decision, and we lost on a small technicality. The court says the government needs a little more time, but we feel they have had enough and in the interim there will be people who suffer material detriment because of this.”

She hoped MPs would take on board the huge groundswell of public opinion backing their case, adding: “The writing is on the wall and we hope the government will act voluntarily to extend this to everyone – all it would take is to use the forthcoming Queen’s Speech to remove six words from the Civil Partnership Act, which state civil partnerships “must be of the same sex”. But if they do not, we will continue our campaign,” she said.

Mr Keidan, who worked as a volunteer for more than a decade at Queen’s Crescent Community Centre and was on its board as a trustee, met Ms Steinfeld, an academic, at a lecture at the London School of Economics six years ago. The couple, who have a child aged two, are engaged to be civil partners.

They were heartened by the support of Lady Justice Arden, who stated in her judgment that the “…bar potentially violates the appellants’ rights”, and “…the discrimination affects one of the closest relationships which one adult has with another and therefore concerns a very important part of their lives and identity”.

Ms Steinfeld said if they won the legal battle they would scrap plans they had for a low-key civil ceremony at a registry office. She added: “Before, I suppose we would have had a quiet ceremony – but now we will have to have a mega-bash to celebrate for everyone.”

The couple’s crowdfunding page is at www.gofundme.com/ecpcampaigns

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