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GIL HOFFMAN \
Ministers to vote on legal recognition for gay couples
(photo credit:Marc Israel Sellem)
The Ministerial Committee on Legislation will vote Sunday on a controversial bill that aims to change how homosexual couples are viewed by family courts.Family courts deal with adoption, divorce, and the recognition of unmarried couples for benefits from the state.The bill, sponsored by MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz), would require family courts to treat same sex couples the same way they treat a man and woman.“There are courts that have taken action on an individual level, such as with the approval of the first gay divorce in Israel, but this law needs to be passed to make such recognition standard in all the courts,” a spokesman for Horowitz said.Horowitz’s is just one of multiple bills that will come to vote in the committee Sunday that will change the way family courts work.The ministers will vote on two bills that would reform the divorce procedure in Israel, one proposed by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (Hatnua) and another by Likud MK Gila Gamliel. The current law automatically grants custody of children under six to their mother unless there are special reasons not to, due to a controversial clause about children’s “tender years.”A committee Livni appointed found that the tender years clause resulted in custody for all of a couple’s children being granted to the mother when one of the children is under six, in order to keep the children together. When the child turns six, custody was not reconsidered, so as not to change the lifestyle to which the children had grown accustomed.Gamliel’s bill would eliminate the tender years clause altogether, while Livni’s would keep the clause in tact for children up to age two. After both bills pass, the Knesset Law Committee will be asked to combine them before their final readings.“Before I proposed my bill, Livni did not advance this key issue,” Gamliel said.“It is important that children have a relationship with both their parents, especially when they are young and need them most. Both parents should have the right to raise their children.”Another bill that will come to a vote Sunday would require animal shelters and dog pounds to spay or neuter pets before they are adopted, at the expense of those adopting the animal.“The bill is intended to decrease the number of abandoned pets, to help the animals, and the people,” Cabel said.The ministerial committee will also vote on Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar’s request to make municipal elections a state holiday like the Knesset’s Election Day.A bill proposed by Hatnua MK Elazar Stern would set a 90-day deadline for medical committees to respond to requests from Holocaust survivors. A spokesman for Stern said he had no doubt that the bill would pass in the committee and later on passed into law in the Knesset.
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