Shalom Life | April 23, 2014

Member of Knesset Files Marriage Equality Bill

MK Horowitz’ bill inspired by Obama’s historic pro same-sex marriage stance

By: Sammy Hudes

Published: May 10th, 2012 in News » Israel

Member of Knesset Files Marriage Equality Bill

MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) resubmitted a marriage equality bill on Thursday, less than 24 hours after US President Barack Obama said he believes same-sex couples should be allowed to marry, according to the Jerusalem Post.

Dubbed the “Freedom of Choice in Marriage” bill, Horowitz’ proposal would allow for any couple that is not recognized by the Chief Rabbinate to have a civil marriage in Israel. This would include marriages between same-sex couples and between Jews and gentiles.

“Hundreds of thousands of Israelis cannot realize their right to be married in their own country, and must be wed abroad, which is very expensive, all because of blatant religious coercion,” Horowitz said.

“A democratic country cannot withhold a basic right from its citizens, like the right to get married and start a family. This is intolerable discrimination, which is unacceptable and must be put to an end.”

Horowitz pointed out that this bill would benefit many immigrants from the Former Soviet Union who are not considered Jewish by the rabbinate, and therefore cannot currently marry Jews in Israel.

Horowitz has submitted the same bill twice before, but both times it was rejected in its preliminary reading.

On Wednesday, Obama became the first US president to publicly express his support for gay marriage.

“It is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married,” Obama said during an interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts.

Israel’s LGBT community reacted positively to Obama’s stance, offering plenty of praise for the US president.

“It is a huge step for the enlightened world that the strongest leader publicly recognizes the new family. In doing so, he is obviously posing a challenge to the world’s religious public,” said Irit Rosenblum, founder and CEO of New Family, an organization in Israel devoted to equal family rights.

According to the organization, there are currently 18,000 same-sex families living in Israel. Approximately 4,500 children are being raised in same-sex families.

“I think that this is certainly a very brave act. He is creating the necessary world balance. At a time when it seems the world is becoming increasingly fundamentalist and conservative, this is a liberal point of light.”

Itay Pinkas, chairman of Tel Aviv's gay community center was also pleased with Obama’s decision.

“The only two leaders to bring up the rights of the community in a congressional speech were Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu,” he told Haaretz.

“Obama spoke of the importance of equality during his inauguration speech…he is one of the heads of state most supportive of equality for all citizens.”

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