High Court rejects appeal against recognizing online marriages from Utah

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

Sapir and Gili Zeelon get married over Zoom through a wedding officiant in Utah in January 2021. (Courtesy: Sapir Zeelon)
Sapir and Gili Zeelon get married over Zoom through a wedding officiant in Utah in January 2021. (Courtesy: Sapir Zeelon)

The High Court of Justice rejects a request from the state attorney to delay recognizing marriages performed online through the US state of Utah pending a hearing in their legality.

Beginning some two years ago, Israelis started getting married using video conferencing software through Utah as a way of circumventing Israel’s lack of civil marriage without having to physically travel abroad. The Israeli government fought these marriages in court, arguing that they actually took place in Israel and were thus illegitimate.

Two district courts have rejected these claims, ordering the Interior Ministry to recognize the marriages. Earlier this month, the government appealed to the High Court of Justice and asked to delay recognition of the marriages until their legality is resolved.

The court rejects this request and orders the Interior Ministry to update the marital statuses of the people who married through Utah, according to the Hiddush religious rights group that represented the married couples.

However, this is potentially a temporary measure. If the court sides with the state attorney, these marriages will nevertheless be nullified.

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