Israel’s Knesset today rejected a bill that would allow civil marriages. Currently all Israeli marriages must be conducted by a religious institution. The proposed bill would have allowed secular, interfaith, and same-sex unions.
The legislation, by MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) opens the option of civil marriages for those who may not be wed according to halacha (Jewish law), as well as those who choose not to be married by the Chief Rabbinate. It was rejected, with 39 MKs opposed and 11 in favor. Horowitz said there are tens of thousands of homosexual couples in Israel, and his law would help them and others who cannot exercise the basic right to be married and build a family. “There is an extremist, dark institution deciding who may or may not get married,” the Meretz MK said. “The public is sick of the rabbinate.” According to Horowitz, coalition parties betrayed their secular voters by rejecting the bill, choosing to pander to haredi (ultra-orthodox) parties, instead. “Now, more than ever, it is clear to the public in Israel who is for a free society and who is for haredim,” he added.
Like the U.S., Israel is ostensibly a secular democracy.