British Supreme Court: Heterosexual couples can choose ‘civil partnership’

June 27 (UPI) — The British Supreme Court unanimously ruled Wednesday that a heterosexual couple may enter into a civil partnership, rather than a marriage.

The couple, Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan, met in 2010 and now have two children. They said they preferred a civil partnership because the “legacy of marriage” has “treated women as property for centuries.”

The high court’s ruling overturns an appeals court judgement 16 months ago.

The court’s five justices ruled Britain’s Civil Partnership Act, which applies only to same-sex couples, is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights — which requires unions for same-sex couples to mirror those for heterosexual couples.

The ruling notes that couples in a civil partnership have the same entitlements of a marriage, like inheritance, tax, pensions and next-of-kin arrangements.

Since 2014, same-sex couples in Britain have been able to choose between a civil partnership or marriage. Heterosexual couples, though, have had only one — a limitation Steinfeld, 37, and Keidan, 41, argued is discriminatory.

“Same sex couples have a choice. They can decide to have a civil partnership or to marry. That
choice was not — and is not — available to heterosexual couples,” the court wrote in its 20-page ruling. “Under the law as it currently stands, they can only gain access to the rights, responsibilities, benefits and entitlements that marriage brings by getting married. This circumstance, it is now agreed, brought about an inequality of treatment between same sex and
heterosexual couples.”

The couple said they want to raise their children as equal partners and feel a civil partnership — a modern, symmetrical institution — sets the best example.

The couple’s attorney said they have “deep-rooted and genuine ideological objections to marriage.”

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