A heterosexual couple in the UK has lost the first legal battle in an unusual equality fight. Rebecca Steinfeld, 34, and Charles Keidan, 39—who've been together since 2010 and have an 8-month-old baby—petitioned the High Court to grant them a civil partnership because they see marriage as "patriarchal," reports the Guardian. The problem: Only same-sex couples are eligible. In fact, same-sex couples can now choose marriage or a civil partnership in the UK, while straight couples can only marry—which Steinfeld and Keidan say is "incompatible with equality law." On Friday, however, a judge struck down their challenge. "Just as the UK was under no obligation to extend marriage to same-sex couples, it has never been under an obligation to extend civil partnership to heterosexual couples," he wrote.
Straight couples aren't at a disadvantage "because they can achieve exactly the same recognition of their relationship and the same rights, benefits, and protections by getting married," the judge declared, per the BBC. The government additionally argued that civil partnerships may be phased out now that same-sex couples can legally marry and, therefore, offering civil partnerships to heterosexual couples in the meantime would be "costly and complex." Steinfeld, who maintains that a civil partnership is "almost identical" to marriage "but without its history and social expectations," says the couple is "very disappointed" by the ruling and will appeal it. The couple's online petition in support of civil partnerships for straight couples has nabbed 36,000 signatures.