Opposition MKs propose US-inspired gay marriage bills

Two bill proposals in the Knesset are hoping to bring civil marriage to Israel and legalize gay marriage like in the US.

Gay marriage (photo credit: INGIMAGE / ASAP)
Gay marriage
(photo credit: INGIMAGE / ASAP)
Yesh Atid and the Zionist Union pushed civil marriage bills on Sunday, hoping that the government will be inspired by Friday’s US Supreme Court decision to legalize gay marriage to do the same.
On Sunday, MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union) proposed her own civil unions bill, based on one she drafted as justice minister in the last government, which was blocked because of coalition politics.
A nearly identical bill by MK Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid) allowing civil unions for any couple will be brought to the Ministerial Committee for Legislation next Sunday.
The bill seeks to not only give those who cannot have their wedding officiated by the rabbinate or other religious authority – gay couples, couples of two different religions, a Cohen and a divorcee, etc. – a way to get married, but to give all couples a choice of what kind of nuptials they prefer.
Neither bill has a good chance of becoming law under this government, which includes three religious parties.
“We have to allow a civil alternative for all of the couples who do not want to go through the rabbinate,” Lavie said. “I believe that the path of civil unions will do civil justice and will lead more people to want to get married through the religious system, because it will have to make itself more efficient and be managed properly.”
Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid pointed to a tweet by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon praising the US Supreme Court decision and expressing hope that Israel will do the same, saying “the time has come for cooperation across party lines and across the coalition and opposition to allow civil unions.”
Livni responded to Ya’alon’s tweet: “I’m glad to hear it. You are invited to support a bill on the issue that I will promote.”
“It will be interesting to see if the prime minister, who is proud of Israel’s pluralism and welcomed the gay community just a few weeks ago, will vote against my proposal,” Livni said.
MK Stav Shaffir (Zionist Union) criticized Lapid on Sunday for pushing legislation allowing gay marriage, when he voted against her bill on the matter in the last Knesset. Livni was the only minister to support Shaffir’s initiative in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation in 2013.
At the time, Yesh Atid took issue with Shaffir’s proposal because it only allowed civil marriages for gay couples, as opposed to the broader group of Israelis that cannot or do not wish to be wedded by the rabbinate.