Minister voices support for same-sex marriage in Israel

Moshe Ya’alon says country needs to give citizens the right to choose their partner for life

Aaron Kalman is a former writer and breaking news editor for the Times of Israel

Moshe Ya'alon (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Moshe Ya'alon (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

A high-level minister came out in support of same-sex marriage in Israel on Monday.

Speaking to Army Radio Monday morning, Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe Ya’alon said he believed such decisions were personal and the government should “give people the freedom to choose.”

The former chief of staff, who is often characterized as a hard-liner on security issues, said there was a partial precedent for this, in that the IDF recognized partners of the same sex for the purpose of common-law marriages. Not every personal choice needs to be approved by the rabbinate, said Ya’alon, who sits in the prime minister’s high-level inner cabinet.

Legislation to recognize civilian and gay marriages in Israel that was submitted by MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) will be voted on in the Knesset later this week.

Last week, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said he didn’t think Israel would approve such a measure, but he himself would reconsider his position on gay marriage.

The topic of gay marriages made headlines recently when President Barack Obama spoke out openly in favor of the issue. On Monday, Newsweek called Obama America’s first gay president.

All marital affairs within the state are currently controlled by the religious establishments — Jews marry through the rabbinate, while Christian and Muslim citizens can tie the knot at their religious institutions.

Because of this status quo there are a few groups who can’t legally get married in Israel, including members of the gay community who aren’t recognized by any official religious institution in the country.

Common-law marriages have been recognized for specific monetary purposes, and civil marriages from abroad are recognized retroactively by the authorities, meaning gay marriages that take place outside Israel are recognized by the state.

The push for full recognition and official civil marriages within Israel has been ongoing for years, but it has yet to pass the test of legislation.

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