Tuesday, October 29, 2013

News the HP Doesn't Cover: Wedding Bill On Way to Knesset

Israel's marriage laws remain problematic and one of the last remaining vestiges of the power of the ultra-Orthodox over the rest of the state. But a new bill submitted to the Knesset might be changing that:
The Yesh Atid faction is expected to submit to the Knesset on Tuesday the civil union bill, which is meant to revolutionize religious services in Israel and allow civil partnership in Israel for all, including same-sex couples and people who are forbidden from wedding under religious law. The bill will establish a framework with the same rights and responsibilities as marriage, effectively allowing Israelis seeking to start a family to circumvent the religious establishment.
On Monday the Knesset passed the Tzohar Law, which will allow Israeli Jews to register their marriage outside the city or town in whichthey live, and choose their rabbi or marriage registrar. Yesh Atid's civil union bill will likely garner broad support from parties both within and outside the coalition, but Habayit Hayehudimay use its veto power on issues related to state and religion to block the legislation. The government's coalition agreement gave Naftali Bennett's party veto power over any change in the State's religious policy. However, Yesh Atid says the veto power does not apply in this case since the bill relates to civil rather than religious issues. Members of Yair Lapid's party said the proposal was drafted following lengthy discussions, during which the gaps between the faction's religious members and secular members were bridged. One Yesh Atid member said all members believe that "every couple has the right to decide how they want to formalize their relationship and realize their love. This includes seculars, same-sex couples, foreigners whose Judaism has not been recognized, and people with no officially defined religion." Following two months of deliberations, the Yesh Atid members agreed on a solution for those who seek a civil union and those who are not recognized by the religious establishment. The bill will effectively create a new civil institution that will exist alongside the religious one, without undermining the status of religious marriages and divorces or the authority of the Rabbinate. According to the proposal, as soon as two people are joined in civil union, they will be granted the same civil rights given to married couples. The arrangement will spare those who do not wish to formalize their relationship in the current framework the hassle and expenses involved in completing the same process abroad.

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