Israel Recognizes Same-Sex Marriage
Check this out, all of you who think Israel is a backwater theocracy. As reported in Ha’aretz Israel now recognizes same-sex marriages conducted overseas.
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel that filed the petition on the behalf of the couples, argued before the court that the Interior Ministry’s refusal to register them as married compromises their right to equality and to hold family life, and is based on “homophobe social perceptions.”
The court rejected the position of the State Attorney, that states recognizing single-sex marriages cannot expect Israel to recognize such nuptial agreements drawn in these countries.
The state told the High Court that “Israel lacks the appropriate legal framework for such marriages,” and therefore it cannot register them.
While, I am happy about the result, there are a few problems that can’t be overlooked. First off, the State Attorney is right. Israel does not have the appropriate legal framework to handle same-sex marriage. In fact, the high court also ruled today that foreign civil marriages could only be ended through the rabbinical court system. It will be very interesting to see what happens when the first same-sex couple tries to get a divorce, chas v’chalila. Also, as is typical in Israel, the gap between the judicial ruling, and the actual practice of the executive can be quite wide. We probably shouldn’t celebrate just yet.
Aside from these technical concerns, the implications that the ruling have for Israeli society are quite troubling. The court was split 6-1, and while that might sound like a compelling majority, the one dissenting justice, Elyakim Rubenstein, is also the one religious Jew that sat on the court. While I have not read any of the court’s opinions, the impression that I, as long as many others quoted in the Ha’aretz article, have is this split is not coincidental. This majority opinion that did not include Rubenstein unfortunately furthers the tensions between the secular and religious communities, and deepens the growing schism and suspicions. After the riots earlier this month, it would have been nice to have seen justice carried out in a way that would have brought solace and harmony, but, for the time being, I guess we will have to make do with justice alone.