Couple finally get mixed-sex civil partnership process under way

By Abbianca Makoni, PA

A heterosexual couple who led the charge for the right to have a civil partnership instead of a marriage said they were “relieved” to finally get the process under way.

On the fifth anniversary of launching their Equal Civil Partnerships campaign, Rebecca Steinfeld, 37, and Charles Keidan, 41, became one of the first couples in the UK to formally give notice of their intent to form a mixed-sex union.

They made the announcement outside the Hammersmith and Fulham register office, and said a civil partnership was the “perfect expression” of their values, relationship and love for one another.

In his statement, Mr Keidan said: “[This is] a blank slate for which we can inscribe our own hopes and dreams. There’s no social script, no fixed expectations imposed by others and a minimal fanfare.”

The academics, who live in Hammersmith, west London, suffered defeat at the Court of Appeal in February last year, but were given the go-ahead for a Supreme Court hearing in August 2018.

The panel of Supreme Court justices, including the court’s president, Lady Hale, heard the couple’s case in May, and judges held the Civil Partnership Act 2004 Act was “incompatible” with human rights laws on discrimination and family life.

Ms Steinfeld said: “It matters that feminists like me in mixed-sex relationships can, through civil partnerships, formalise a relationship of equals and throw away titles like wife together, with all the gendered expectations that come with it.”

She added that it gives her “leverage” when it comes to “creeping inequality” in their division of household labour and childcare responsibilities, and encouraged others to “get hitched like a feminist and form a civil partnership”.

Home Office minister Baroness Williams of Trafford said the Government was keen for the first opposite-sex civil partnership to be formed before the end of 2019.

Regulations coming into force on December 2 mean the first ceremonies can take place on December 31.

Martin Loat, 55, the chairman of the campaign, told the PA news agency that it was a “pleasure” working with the couple.

He said: “I heard about them launching their legal bid five years ago. My partner and I had been together 23 years that time, and knew we didn’t want to get married at that time, but wanted to put our relationship on to a firm legal footing, so we were looking for a way to do this.”

He added that he believes what Ms Steinfeld and Mr Keidan have achieved is “so brave and principled” and said they “provided a vocal point for others”.

After giving notice of their partnership, Ms Steinfeld and Mr Keidan said they will be having a “simple” registration in 29 days, with their children and two friends.