Israel Makes a Push For Same-Sex Marriage

Many hope to prevent the bill from passing Read More

By / November 6, 2013

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni has initiated the process to introduce an updated civil marriage bill in Israel, which could potentially legalize intermarriage and same-sex marriage throughout the country, Israel National News reports. The bill was released to the Knesset and the public on Sunday, and for the next three weeks is open to comments before being formulated into a formal bill.

In Israel, a bill like this remains controversial:

Hopes remain high that the civil marriage bill will be rejected by the ministerial committee on legislation, where Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) MKs, including Housing Minister Uri Ariel, have already vowed to prevent the bill from passing preliminary stages. The issue of civil marriage has already reportedly threatened the critical alliance between Yesh Atid and Bayit Yehudi, which provides the foundation of the current coalition.

Surprisingly, Rabbi Binyamin Lau, a respected public figure and biographer of Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef, has reportedly made a statement supporting the civil union proposal, suggesting that the change could cause “much of the hatred of religion by secular Israelis to disappear.”

Livni’s move comes after last week’s proposal of the “Tzoharbill,” which allows couples to choose which municipal rabbinate will process the marriage license. Currently, Jewish marriage in Israel is under the jurisdiction of the Chief Rabbinate and if a couple does not wish to marry under the rabbinate, they often travel to Cyprus for a recognized marriage certificate.

The bill would update the civil marriage option that already exists in Israel. The current bill is limited to people defined as “without religion,” which is usually Russian immigrants who become citizens according to the Right of Return, but are not formally recognized as Jews by the Interior Ministry.

(Photo by Ilia Yefimovich/Getty)