Authorities appeal ruling that upheld Utah video conference marriages

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's religions and Diaspora affairs correspondent.

Israel’s State Attorney’s office is appealing a district court ruling upholding the legitimacy of marriages performed using video conferencing through the US state of Utah.

Two years ago, Utah began permitting couples to marry over the internet from anywhere in the world, so long as the officiant was located in the state.

For Israelis, this offered an opportunity to more easily circumvent Israel’s religious marriage complex. In the past they would have had to travel abroad in order to obtain a civil marriage.

Some 600 Israelis have gotten married this way in the past two years, according to the religious freedom organization Hiddush, which has taken on their case.

The Interior Ministry opposed this workaround, however, and challenged the legitimacy of the marriages in court. Two district courts, one in Lod and one in Jerusalem, rejected the state’s argument that these marriages were not actually performed in Utah and upheld their validity.

The state was given until this month to decide if it would appeal the decision to the High Court of Justice, which it has chosen to do.

In its appeal, the state attorney argues that the lower court’s ruling upsets the marriage status quo in Israel, which it says should be left up to legislators, not judges, to establish.

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