Tzipi Livni Officiates at Gay Wedding, Expresses Regret That It's Only Symbolic in Israel

'We are here to celebrate the cliche truth that "love conquers all,"' justice minister tells Guy, Tzach and guests.

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Hatnuah leader Tzipi Livni during a traditional pre-election visit to the Western Wall in Jerusalem, January 3, 2013.
Hatnuah leader Tzipi Livni during a traditional pre-election visit to the Western Wall in Jerusalem, January 3, 2013.Credit: AFP

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni officiated at the wedding of two men this week, ynetnews reports.

Monday night's wedding between the men, named Guy and Tzach, in a Jaffa banquet hall, was not a legal one, because gay marriages performed in Israel are not recognized by the state, as Livni ruefully reminded the couple and their guests

"I am not here as justice minister," Livni said. "Sadly, I do not have the official legal authority to bind Guy and Tzach in a union recognized by the State of Israel – the country of their birth, for which they served in the army, and in which they want to live their lives together.

"Despite my best intentions," she said, "I cannot promise that after this ceremony is done, you will receive the full rights enjoyed by married couples in this country. But I have come here on the authority of my moral position, and to say that the time has come that the state accept any couple who has chosen to tie their fate together as a couple."

While the wedding had no legal standing and Livni is no rabbi, she touched all the bases that a rabbi at a Jewish wedding touches. She instructed Guy and Tzach to exchange rings, explaining that these are a symbol of their commitment to live up to the vows they've made to each other. At the end of the ceremony, Livni led the couple through the breaking of the glass, which Guy and Tzach managed to accomplish in unison.

And unlike some who officiate at weddings, Livni spoke with conviction.

"When Tzach and Guy contacted me and told me their story, I quickly noticed their experience was identical to that of any young couple at the beginning of their lives," she said. "The stories they shared with me reminded me of the beginning of my own marriage, which in the meantime has survived for three decades, and that is great.

"I was happy to learn that Tzach works for the Foreign Ministry and as part of his work he will represent Israel with Guy by his side, showing the world Israel's true face," she said.

Livni also stressed that the marriage was in perfect tune with Judaism.

"I believe that what I have been invited to do by Guy and Tzach is in no way a provocation meant to insult Judaism. We have true respect for this tradition, as we see and understand it, an open Judaism, which accepts people and respects them as those made in the image of God," she said. "That is why we have preserved elements of the traditional Jewish ceremony in our current ceremony."

She noted that while she has put forward legislation to equalize the rights of gay couples, it is an uphill battle – but a just one.

"In my opinion the state is not the authority of love, this is not a finite resource which needs to be regulated. No power in the world can veto love and stand before the will of a couple who has chosen to share their lives with one another," she said. "We are here to celebrate the cliché truth that 'love conquers all.'"

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