Yesh Atid to Push Civil Union Bill to Legislative Committee

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Illustration: Two men, both wearing signs that read "he's the groom"; they couldn't presently formalize their relationship under Israeli law.Credit: Reuters

Next Sunday, the Yesh Atid faction is planning to submit civil marriage legislature to the Ministerial Committee for Legislation.

Yesh Atid Chairman MK Yair Lapid issued a response over the weekend to the United States Supreme Court’s decision to legally recognize same-sex marriage in all 50 states. “After the American Supreme Court approve gay marriage, after Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon praised them and expressed hope it becomes possible in Israel, the time has come to cooperate across parties, across coalition and opposition – in order to pass civil marriage.”

Yesh Atid MK Aliza Lavie, who is spearheading the legislation, said “we must allow a civil alternative for those couples who prefer not to go through the rabbinate. Many couples don’t have the ability to be married by the rabbinate. We’ve put this bill forward to address this issue in Israel of 2015. I believe that the possibility of civil unions will create civil justice, and will also get more people to marry within the religious framework, as it will have to make itself more efficient.”

Yesh Atid’s civil union bill would afford every couple the right to decide how to formalize their relationship, including secular Jews, those who are not allowed to marry in the rabbinate, same-sex couples and Jews whose conversions are not recognized by the rabbinate, as well as those without religion.

The bill proposes a solution for all those who are not comfortable in the existing religious framework, as well as those who are not recognized by it. It would afford every couple the freedom to choose between civil-secular marriage or a religious marriage. Couples would be recognized equally by the law no matter what path they choose.

A civil union is an agreement between two people to join their lives together, and it does not represent a struggle or opposition to marriage by Jewish law. The goal is to allow every couple that does not wish to marry under the auspices of the rabbinate the right to live together without forgoing rights afforded couples by the government.

MK Tzipi Livni is expected to propose a similar bill directly to the Knesset, based on an earlier bill she presented during her time as justice minister. The bill would create the possibility for Israeli couples that register with the government to receive all the economic and civil rights afforded to couples who marry through the rabbinate. Such a law would apply to those who cannot be married under Jewish law, including many Israelis of former Soviet Union descent, as well as members of the LGBT community.

“It will be interesting to see if the prime minister, who takes pride in pluralistic Israel and blessed the gay community just a few weeks ago, will shoot down this bill,” said Livni.

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