ISRAEL: Activists Petition Supreme Court For Marriage

Israel’s National LGBT Task Force, also known as The Aguda, today filed a same-sex marriage petition with the Supreme Court. The petition, a first for the group, declares that if rabbinical courts continue to refuse to authorize same-sex marriages, the Supreme Court has the authority to order civil courts to do so. The Times Of Israel reports:

Israeli marriages are performed under laws inherited from Ottoman times that grant each Israeli religious community’s state-recognized leadership sole jurisdiction over marriage. These Ottoman religious communal structures, called millets, were continued by the British mandate. After Israel’s 1948 independence, Israel too maintained the system, citing among other considerations its obligations to the country’s minorities. As a consequence, marriages in Israel are performed only through religious institutions. Jewish couples must marry through the Chief Rabbinate, and Catholics, Druze and Muslims all marry through their own state-sanctioned and publicly funded religious legal systems. In that light, while same-sex marriage is not actually illegal in Israel, there simply isn’t any institution empowered to perform such marriages.

More from the Jerusalem Post:

Oded Fried, executive director of The National LGBT Task Force, said that the group submitted the petition because the right to marriage is a fundamental right and should be available to everyone, and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity is prohibited and must be stopped. “The reality we live in is absurd; on the one hand, the rabbinical courts do not recognize same-sex marriages, and on the other hand, are reluctant to give up the exclusive jurisdiction to recognize them. It’s time for members of the LGBT community to be citizens with equal rights,” he said. “We demand that the state provide the basic and fundamental right to exercise our love for whomever we choose, and require legislation to allow gay marriage in Israel,” they said.

The Aguda says that if their petition is denied, they will then work towards abolishing Article 1 of the rabbinical courts, which outlaws civil marriage. The top-linked story notes that 70% of Israelis backed same-sex marriage in a 2013 poll.

  • The best thing that could happen to Israel is to stop being a theocracy. Good things will start from there.

    • Webslinger

      I completely agree and was talking to my husband about this just a few hours ago:

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    • bkmn

      It would help if they stopped electing Bibi into office too.

      • b

        He is the biggest religious leader of them all.

  • S1AMER

    Interesting legal tactic.

  • BobSF_94117

    With so many heterosexual couples inconvenienced by Israeli marriage law and everybody just putting up with it, I think it’s unlikely that they’ll change the law for us.

  • b

    Israel is a religious state, not a secular state, obedient to laws, not religious leaders. Hope that will change.

  • Baltimatt

    Evangelicals have also had trouble getting married in Israel. This article is from 2012.

    Hundreds of Israeli evangelical couples have traveled out of the country in order to get married because the Jewish government does not officially recognize their faith. Church leaders are escalating efforts to change that.

    The Council of Evangelical Churches in Israel (CECI), which includes 51 churches and organizations such as Campus Crusade and the Bible Society, formally requested in August 2011 that Israel recognize four denominations on behalf of nearly 5,000 followers. More than a year later, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—who must approve the request—has yet to respond, says Michael Decker, chief counsel for the Jerusalem Institute of Justice (JIJ).

    “Not being recognized leads to practical problems,” said Botrus Mansour, director of Nazareth Baptist School, regarding marriage, divorce, and education matters. “We hope a lawsuit will [help].”

    • Sam_Handwich

      well that’s satisfying

      • Octavio


  • Reality.Bites

    I don’t know anything about the powers of the Israeli Supreme Court, but I assume if this was within their powers it would have happened long ago for atheists, non-Orthodox Jews or non-Catholic Christians.

  • Jafafa Hots

    Sounds like atheists are screwed too.

    • Reality.Bites

      Yes. Israel recognizes opposite-sex marriages conducted abroad, and I understand lots of Israelis take a short trip to Cyprus, but that doesn’t work for same-sex couples, both in that Israel still won’t recognize a valid same-sex marriage conducted abroad, and that having one wouldn’t be easy – most European countries won’t marry two non-residents.

    • Baltimatt

      There are civil unions for couples where both are registered as not belonging to any religion. However, mixed-religion marriages are generally not possible except for Muslim men.

  • Jimmie Z

    Gotta love the copper pyramid on the roof of their Supreme Court building.
    °That° had to cost a few sheckels!

    • What?

      Yeah, not the best part of the building. It seems from the pictures that there are some interesting interior areas.

  • BobSF_94117

    There could be some positive aspects to an arrangement similar to this, though expanded to allow atheist or secular marriage, along with a recognition of other religions which are not on the authorized list.

    There’s something to be said for fiefdoms when it causes the authorities to worry mostly about their own serfs and the rules those serfs have to live by. It discourages them from having very strong opinions about what goes on in other fiefdoms. Of course, it would all be much better with an opt-out-of-being-a-serf possibility.

    • Reality.Bites

      In countries with lots and lots of religious sects like the United States and Canada, it would become quite a bureaucratic mess to decide who is and isn’t a valid religion. The US, for the most part, takes the view that if you say you’re a religion, the state isn’t going to argue. And there’s no evidence of any of the churches (in either country) minding their own business about who other religious bodies should be allowed to marry.

      • Huntington

        Exactly. The only reason the U.S.’s vaunted separation between church and state exists is that no one church has been able to dominate the others.

        • lukefromcanada

          despite what huckabee and cruz and the rest of their ilk try and say

          • It’s actually more what they’re trying to do.

  • JT

    We don’t need no stinkin’ rabbinical courts! Dissolve them!

  • Robert Conner

    Lovely! So America’s chief “democratic ally” in the Middle East–the Saudis are our real chief “ally” but it’s never been in doubt that they’re a radical theocracy–turns out to be a theocracy where the rubber hits the road. Not surprising I suppose if one considers that the world’s most totalitarian theocracies originated in this dog-forsaken land of sand, hate, gravel and more hate. Aside from the “fact” that Jesus is coming back to Megiddo to start Armageddon and destroy the planet, no wonder the Talibangelicals orgasm constantly over Israel.

    The western world desperately needs to get the fuck out of the Middle East and get the Middle East the fuck out of the West. They are basically hopeless.