Bayit Yehudi, Yesh Atid clash over gay parents tax bill

Bayit Yehudi reinstated its veto of Yesh Atid-initiated legislation giving equal tax benefits to gay and straight parents.

Yesh Atid MK Adi Kol (L) and Bayit Yehud MK Ayelet Shaked 37 (photo credit: Courtesy of Knesset Channel)
Yesh Atid MK Adi Kol (L) and Bayit Yehud MK Ayelet Shaked 37
(photo credit: Courtesy of Knesset Channel)
Bayit Yehudi reinstated its veto of Yesh Atid-initiated legislation giving equal tax benefits to gay and straight parents Wednesday.
The veto came after the parties publicly sparred over whether or not they agreed to an alternative text for the bill that would not set a precedent of legally recognizing gay partnerships.
Yesh Atid MK Adi Kol, who proposed the bill publicly, accused the Bayit Yehudi of lying, while the religious-Zionist party said she reneged on an agreement between them.
“I never agreed to a version that removes the recognition of same-sex couples by law, as opposed to the lying statements the Bayit Yehudi released,” Kol said.
“Yesterday Kol agreed to tax benefits for homosexual couples without recognition. We saw in the press today that she went back on our understandings, so the vote won’t happen today,” the Bayit Yehudi spokesman said.
The root of the argument is that the text of the bill, granting the same tax break that is meant to encourage women to work to gay men with children, would set a precedent of legally recognizing gay partnerships.
The Bayit Yehudi exercised its veto power, claiming the legislation changes the status quo on matters of religion and state.
However, the party offered Yesh Atid an alternative version of the bill that would give gay parents the same tax break as straight ones without the wording that constitutes legal recognition of same-sex couples.
On Tuesday, the Bayit Yehudi said that the party came to an agreement with Yesh Atid that the original text of the bill would be brought to a preliminary reading, but that one of their alternative versions – that meet the original bill’s goal of giving gay parents tax breaks without calling them a couple – would be adopted in the Knesset Finance Committee, led by MK Nissan Slomiansky (Bayit Yehudi), before its first reading.
Kol said Tuesday “there was no agreement with the Bayit Yehudi on changes to the text” but that “changes will be discussed before the next reading” on the bill.
In other words, as Yesh Atid sources explained, they agreed that the bill would go to a vote as-is and then coalition parties will talk about what comes next, but not that there would necessarily be any changes.
Shortly before the legislation was supposed to be brought to a preliminary vote Wednesday, the Bayit Yehudi announced that they are vetoing it once again, in cooperation with Yisrael Beytenu, and that Yesh Atid reneged on an agreement that Kol would say in her speech on the bill that it will be changed in the committee.
However, no one updated Kol, who presented the initiative in the plenum, mocking Bayit Yehudi faction chairwoman Ayelet Shaked in her speech for saying she has nothing against LGBT people but that she doesn’t think the law should recognize their partnerships.
“This parliament just talks, but today we have a rare chance to make a change and bring equality. There will never be equality if this bill is rejected,” Kol said in the plenum.
“This isn’t a matter of religion and state and it cannot be that some people have a monopoly on those issues.”
Deputy Finance Minister Mickey Levy approached the stand to speak in favor of the bill, when coalition chairman Yariv Levin (Likud Beytenu) stopped him and said there will not be a vote today.
Yesh Atid MKs began shouting, as did MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz), the only openly gay MK and cosponsor of the bill, and other opposition members.
Kol and Shaked heatedly and vocally argued in the plenum after the Yesh Atid MK took her seat, until Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein demanded they take their bickering outside.
Soon after, Levin said that he blocked the vote because he only allows bills to be brought to the plenum by coalition consensus, and encouraged MKs to behave responsibly and according to government decisions.
“[Yesh Atid] just want to grab headlines instead of compromising; this bill will never pass,” a senior Bayit Yehudi source said.
A Yesh Atid spokeswoman said the bill will pass its preliminary reading as-is and that any talk of coalition consensus would come after that.
In fact, another Yesh Atid source said, the party doesn’t need Bayit Yehudi or Yisrael Beytenu’s support for the bill to pass as Labor and Meretz back it as well.
The source added that the reason party MKs seemed so surprised in the plenum was that faction chairman Ofer Shelah was talking to Levin and Shaked to work out a solution, but wasn’t given time to finish.