Ms Steinfeld, 34, and Mr Keidan, 39, wished to enter into a civil partnership which they felt had a greater focus on equality, without the patriarchal history and associations of marriage. They claimed that the law discriminated against them as the Civil Partnership Act 2004 requires that partners be "two people of the same sex". Mrs Justice Andrews today dismissed their claim for judicial review.

Commenting on the decision, Sandra Davis, Head of Family law at Mishcon de Reya, said: "This case misses the point. This couple could have entered into a civil marriage, which has no religious overtones, and which affords them rights before the law. The real issue is that there remains a clear distinction between legal marriage and unmarried cohabitation, in terms of legal regulation and state intervention. The truth is that rates of marriage and civil partnership are in significant decline, whilst cohabitees are the fastest growing type of family in Britain. There are over three million cohabiting couples in England and Wales, and increasing numbers of children are born each year outside of legally regulated relationships.

 

"Whilst society has changed, the law lags behind the society it serves. Today's case only serves to show that there is a need for a detailed legal framework to provide legal protection to cohabiting, same and opposite sex couples similar to that enjoyed by those couples who are married or in a civil partnership. Our family justice system needs to ensure that it benefits, protects and respects all 21st Century families, including those who do not wish to enter into a marriage or civil partnership, but who would still benefit from the protection the law only currently offers to those in regulated relationships."