Battle for Same-Sex Marriage Heats-Up in Israel
Talk about a hooplah under the hoopah!
As Israel’s left, right and center scramble to cobble together a government, the red-hot issue of same-sex marriage is coming to a head in the Jewish nation. Right now a bill is being negotiated by Israel’s major parties to deal with the issue of “civil marriages” — which currently do not exist in Israel, where all nuptials must be performed by a certified religious authority (AKA rabbi, priest or iman).
According to reports, under the proposed new agreement, Civil Marriages would be introduced — but would be limited to only unions between a woman and man. In other words, Gay and Lesbian Israelis should cancel those honeymoon plans.
This is unsurprising. Civil Unions are hot in Israel right now owing to the strong showing of politician Avigdor Lieberman, whose Israel Beteinu party scored 15 Knesset seats during last month’s election. That’s more than 10 percent. Right-winger Lieberman supports Civil Unions because they directly server his main constituency: Nearly 1 million Soviet Jews who emigrated to Israel late last century. Many are not technically Jewish and hence under current regulations — and a lack of Civil Unions — cannot marry in Israel. Yes, it may seem shocking, but Jews and non-Jews may not marry in the country.
Under Lieberman’s plan, the new legislation would allow these folks to get hitched — but fails to extend this right to Homo and Lesbo Heebs! Moreover, divorces would still only be available by religious decree — leaving religious leaders with important levels of power.
But there’s hope. A bill introduced today by leftist Knesset Member Nitzan Horowitz would work toward making Civil Marriage open and equal for all Israelis — Jew, Muslim, Gay, Straight, Lesbian, etc, etc, etc. In other words, civil marriage would be just that — CIVIL. And Israel’s pernicious religious right would finally get out of the marriage industry.
Israel has a long history leading the movement toward LGBT equality: Since 2006 Israel recognizes same-sex marriages performed outside of the country. Israel has also had nationwide protection of LGBTs in the workplace since 1992. And Gays and Lesbians are proud, effective — and often sexily uniformed — members of the armed services. All besting America’s record.
As Tzipi Livni, Benjamin Netanyahu and Lieberman work overtime to form a coalition, it is important that the issue of same-sex marriage is not lost in the commotion. Moreover, by committing to full-scale civil unions, Israel has a tremendous opportunity to lead the West towards a more equitable — and less religious-controlled — future for all.
It’s a complicated — but important — issue, with more information available here.