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Bayit Yehudi, Yesh Atid agree on alternative tax break bill for gay parents
By LAHAV HARKOV
03/12/2013
New wording would not legally recognize homosexual partnerships; Lapid challenges Bayit Yehudi claims initiative is a religion and state issue.
 
Bayit Yehudi and Yesh Atid agreed to an alternative version of a bill by MK Adi Kol (Yesh Atid) Tuesday, giving gay parents a tax break without recognizing their partnership.

The bill, in its original version recognizing gay partnerships, will go to a preliminary vote Wednesday, after which it will be taken to a Knesset committee that according to an agreement between the parties, will change its text to one of the alternatives suggested by Bayit Yehudi – which vetoed Kol’s proposal – before it is brought to another vote.

The bill in question, proposed by Kol, gives male homosexual couples an equal tax break for having children as that enjoyed by heterosexual couples. Currently, a tax benefit is given to women with children in order to encourage them to join the workforce.

Bayit Yehudi vetoed the legislation, with faction chairwoman Ayelet Shaked saying it would mean the government is recognizing gay partnerships as a family unit for the first time – and that such changes must be made by consensus in the coalition.

On Tuesday, Bayit Yehudi offered several alternatives in order for male gay parents will get the same tax break as heterosexual parents, without the law recognizing their partnership.

One would be for all parents, regardless of gender, to receive half of the tax break currently granted to women. The party called it the most egalitarian proposal, though it undermines the purpose of the tax break: to encourage women to work.

Another is for a set of parents to get a set, combined tax break and for the finance minister to pass regulations, and not a law, for extenuating circumstances.

Earlier Tuesday, Finance Minister Yair Lapid threatened to take the bill to a full government vote, as Bayit Yehudi rejected the Ministerial Committee on Legislation’s approval on grounds that it changes the status quo in matters of religion and state, in which all coalition parties have veto power.

“I’ll ask them to explain how this is a matter of religion and state. If this is religion and state, then we can veto anything on any topic and claim it’s religion and state,” Lapid told Army Radio.

“I don’t understand how someone can vote against this and say ‘I think children should be punished because their children are part of the LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] community,’” he added.

Bayit Yehudi found other problems with Kol’s bill, beyond the fact that it recognizes gay marriage. The party says the initiative gives male homosexual parents greater benefits than straight ones.

For example, it allows gay couples to choose which parent receives the tax break, while straight families lose the benefit if the mother does not earn enough to get it. In addition, if two men are in a partnership and only one is legally recognized as a parent, he can still get the tax break, whereas a widower or other single father cannot, since it is a benefit meant for women.
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