Gay and Lesbian Couples to Wed at Tel Aviv Pride Parade

Community to launch Web campaign seeking interested couples, with aim to garner right for civil unions.

The 11th annual Tel Aviv Gay Pride parade this summer will feature an event organizers believe to be the first ever for such an event anywhere in the world and certainly in Israel - two weddings, one of a gay couple and one of a lesbian pair.

A campaign will be launched on the Web site seeking couples interested in being wed as part of the event to submit their candidacy.

A committee at the city's gay community center will determine which two couples will participate in the historic event.

"The idea began with the thought that in the framework of the [city's] centennial celebrations, we wanted to do something substantive and deep to advance the community's agenda," said Yaniv Weizman, the adviser to Tel Aviv-Jaffa Mayor Ron Huldai on gay affairs and a Rov Ha'ir city council member.

"The idea is to wed both a gay and lesbian couple on one of the stages during the parade," he said, adding that the right to marry stands at the top of the gay community's agenda, particularly as Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu party has raised awareness of civil union rights.

"Unfortunately the gay community remains outside the civil union rights Lieberman talks about, and that's why we're here - to demonstrate our will to be included in civil unions," Weizman said.

The two couples to be wedded during the parade, he said, would receive certificates from the family-rights organization New Family.

He said an idea was originally proposed to marry 100 couples on the steps of the Tel Aviv-Jaffa city hall, but it soon became apparent it could be difficult to find so many willing participants.

Weizman said the municipality, which is organizing and sponsoring the Gay Pride parade as part of the centennial celebrations, is in favor of couples' being wed during the march.

"I spoke directly to Huldai, and he knows about this plan. He's a true friend to the community. He's shown great openness. I even asked him to marry the couples," Weizman said.

"Ultimately, since this marriage has no legal standing, and Huldai is not authorized to perform marriages, we decided that it would be irrelevant, and we gave it to Gal Uchovsky," he said, referring to the veteran journalist and filmmaker.

This year's event will begin in Meir Park and end with a party on Gordon Beach.