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Bayit Yehudi vetoes 'revolutionary' tax break bill recognizing gay couples
By LAHAV HARKOV
02/12/2013
Shaked of Bayit Yehudi says bill "defies religious status quo"; Horowitz of Meretz says move reveals Bennett's "dark worldview."
 
Bayit Yehudi and Yesh Atid went on a collision course over issues of religion and state once again this week, with Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett’s party announcing it will veto a bill giving equal tax benefits to heterosexual and same-sex couples with children.

On Sunday night, hours after the bill proposed by MK Adi Kol (Yesh Atid) was approved by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, Bayit Yehudi faction chairwoman Ayelet Shaked sent a letter to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, coalition chairman Yariv Levin, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Finance Minister Yair Lapid and coalition faction chairmen saying the bill defies the religious status quo.

“This bill is meant to undermine the public discourse about civil marriage, which must be undertaken seriously,” Shaked said. Shaked quoted Kol’s Facebook status from Sunday, which said “for the first time, the Israeli government supports a bill that recognizes the gay family unit,” and that the bill is “revolutionary.”

“Such changes will have serious ramifications on Israeli society and the country’s character,” said Shaked. “Therefore, any small change must be reviewed in-depth and passed through agreements.”

The Bayit Yehudi faction chairwoman pointed out that coalition agreements state any party can veto bills pertaining to religion and state, and, as such, she demanded the legislative process on Kol’s proposal be halted.

Bennett’s party previously spoke out against proposals by Yesh Atid and other parties to allow civil unions, saying it would veto them on the same grounds if necessary.

MK Karin Elharar (Yesh Atid) called the Bayit Yehudi crazy for vetoing the bill.

“It’s hard to believe that during International Human Rights Week, in the year 2013, we still need to argue about equality in the State of Israel,” Elharar stated. “There is no connection between tax benefits and religion and state. The Bayit Yehudi lost it.”

MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz), the only openly gay lawmaker in the current Knesset, wrote on Facebook that “the Bayit Yehudi opposes the bill on the grounds that it recognizes gay couples. At least they’re not hiding it like other people in the coalition. If you had any doubts about Naftali Bennett and his smile, once again we see his dark worldview. He sees hundreds of thousands of Israelis as second class.”

The National LGBT Task Force said “with all due respect to the Bayit Yehudi’s ayatollahs, the Israeli tax system is not connected to religion, country of origin, gender or sexual orientation, nor does it have anything to do with the rabbinate or religious services.”

The organization accused the party of holding the coalition hostage to “backward ideologies and discrimination,” as if children of heterosexual parents are worth more than those with homosexual parents.

“We hope that Likud, Yesh Atid and Hatnua will tell the Bayit Yehudi that Israel is not Iran and they cannot force their religious beliefs on the Israeli tax system,” the LGBT task force added.
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