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Knesset rejects marriage equality bill
By LAHAV HARKOV
05/16/2012
"Freedom of Choice in Marriage" bill fails; Meretz calls rabbinate and halacha extremist, dark, anachronistic, chauvinist.
 
The Knesset voted down a bill on Wednesday that would allow same-sex and interfaith couples to wed.

The legislation, proposed by MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz), would open the option of civil marriages for those who may not be wed according to Halacha (Jewish law), as well as those who choose not to be married by the Chief Rabbinate. It was rejected, with 39 MKs opposed and 11 in favor.

Horowitz said there are tens of thousands of homosexual couples in Israel, and his law would help them and others who cannot exercise the basic right to be married and build a family.

“There is an extremist, dark institution deciding who may or may not get married,” he said. “The public is sick of the rabbinate.”

According to Horowitz, coalition parties betrayed their secular voters by rejecting the bill, choosing to pander to haredi (ultra-Orthodox) parties, instead.

“Now, more than ever, it is clear to the public in Israel who is for a free society and who is for haredim,” he added.

After Horowitz presented his bill, Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman gave a succinct rebuttal: “You did not bring your bill to the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, so the government’s official stance is to oppose it. Thank you.”

Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On said she is not surprised by Neeman’s opposition, because he has said he is committed to building a halachic state.

“The Knesset is adopting religious law that is anachronistic, chauvinist, racist and discriminatory, which was written thousands of years ago,” Gal-On stated, calling for separation of religion and state.

The 11 MKs in favor of civil marriages were from Meretz, Labor and Hadash, as well as Kadima MK Nino Abesadze.
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