Israel, Sex & Gender

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.

8 thoughts on “Israel Recognizes Same-Sex Marriage

  1. I don’t know about backwater, but surely a country has some theocratic issues to sort out when going abroad is the only way to have a non-religious (or even just non-Orthodox) marriage and a woman needs her husband’s permission to get divorced. I agree that this decision is positive news, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Israel is a complicated place. It fits neither in the box of “backwater theocracy,” nor in that of “the only democracy in the middle east(!).”

  2. What’s even more worrying is that 6 judges overturn thousands of years of human conduct, and laws, just because they can. Who needs checks and balances if you get what you want, right?
    Eventually the orthodox will become the majority in Israel and overturn this decision. Which begs the question, why bother to begin with?

  3. Eventually the orthodox will become the majority in Israel and overturn this decision. Which begs the question, why bother to begin with?
    1. Why are you so sure of this? when there are enough Orthodox for them to stop feeling hunted, they will not be Orthodox any longer (cf. Shtetl culture in E. Europe)
    2. Why are you so sure the decision will be overturned?
    3. Why Bother? b/c these are *people*, and not being recognized as living together as a family (i.e. marriage) is gezel of financial rights they deserve.

  4. #2 lol!
    #4 I don’t know about Israeli laws, but as a Canadian, if you asked politely you might to be surprised by the response.

  5. Amit: “1. Why are you so sure of this? when there are enough Orthodox for them to stop feeling hunted, they will not be Orthodox any longer (cf. Shtetl culture in E. Europe)”
    If it wasn’t for reform or conservative Jews the term orthodox wouldn’t exist. What you are saying is that once they stop “feeling hunted” they will cease being Jews.
    What a great vision for the future of Judaism.
    “3. Why Bother? b/c these are *people*, and not being recognized as living together as a family (i.e. marriage) is gezel of financial rights they deserve.”
    Those financial rights are for married couples. They don’t deserve it anymore than my single self deserves it.

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