Inspired by US President Barack Obama’s declaration of support for same-sex marriages, MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) resubmitted his marriage equality bill, which will be brought to a vote in the Knesset next week.

Horowitz’s “Freedom of Choice in Marriage” bill would allow for any couple that is not recognized by the Chief Rabbinate to have a civil marriage. This includes same-sex marriages, as well as marriage between Jews and gentiles.

On Monday, in an interview with US TV network ABC, Obama said “It is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”

Horowitz pointed out that marriage inequality affects Israelis from many sectors.

“Hundreds of thousands of Israelis cannot realize their right to be married in their own country, and must be wed abroad, which is very expensive, all because of blatant religious coercion,” Horowitz said.

The Meretz MK pointed out that many immigrants from the former Soviet Union are not considered Jewish by the rabbinate, and cannot marry Jews in Israel.

“A democratic country cannot withhold a basic right from its citizens, like the right to get married and start a family,” Horowitz added. “This is intolerable discrimination, which is unacceptable and must be put to an end.”

According to Horowitz, the bill is a challenge to the new Likud-Kadima coalition, as earlier ministers could cite haredi parties as a reason to stop the legislation.

Horowitz has submitted the bill twice before, and it was rejected in its preliminary reading both times.

When the proposal was brought to a vote in July 2011, MK Orit Zuaretz wore a wedding gown in the plenum, but had to remove her veil.

At the time, Zuaretz explained that about 3,500 Israelis marry in Cyprus every year, saying that the bill is not against Judaism.

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