Gay rights in Israel: Yeah, we’ve got that

Israel’s Supreme Court has just ruled that the state must recognize gay marriage. That would make Israel, let’s see, um, the one and only state in the Middle East where being gay is not only not illegal, but now gays have greater rights in Israel than they do in America. Say, Queers for Palestine, maybe you should start thinking you’re backing the wrong side in this war.

In a precedent-setting ruling, the High Court of Justice on Tuesday ruled that five gay couples wedded outside of Israel can be registered as married couples.

A sweeping majority of six justices to one ruled that the common-law marriages of five gay couples obtained in Toronto, Canada, can appear as married on the population registry.

But—but—I thought Israel is a theocracy, ruled by crazed ultra-Orthodox fundamentalist Jews. How can this be?

Wow, the worldview of the LLL’s who hate Israel really must be shaking today.

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39 Responses to Gay rights in Israel: Yeah, we’ve got that

  1. BMM says:

    I guess the fundies must be backing the wrong side in this war, too.

  2. Rajan R says:

    Though the Supreme Court did so not because of some inalienable, constitutional right (which would be rather ironic, considering Israel lacks a constitution to begin with). But even so, I can imagine this would be a real pain – imagine divorce proceedings (which is conducted under Jewish law, not common or civil law).

  3. jerry robertson says:

    Israel is running towards it’s own destruction….how can the Jew accept this and still be say they follow the Torah….
    We shall see, but, it seems they are another civilization running towards their own sucide….

  4. wolfa says:

    How wonderful. Though they do have a long tradition of accepting non-Israeli non-Orthodox marriages, so this isn’t the world’s biggest leap. And with any luck this will pave the way to civil marriage in Israel, which would be a nice reversal of the usual story.

    The story will be that because there are crazy ultra-Orthodox people saying crazy things about this ruling, Israel is full of crazy homophobes.

  5. I look back and see that I’ve used many ugly terms to represent the Polesm- I mean Queers For Palestine nutcases.

    I’ve recently settled on calling them “Gays For Genocide.”

    But I’m always willing to come up with more if the need arises.

  6. mike the analyst says:

    One question. Do the Isreali people want gay marriage? Obviously their Supreme Court want it – and have imposed it – but what about the population at large?

  7. Chris says:

    Institutionalizing a sterile class of couples only further kicks us down the eugenics road – how many generations before the triple whammy of abortion, reproductive research and gay marriage produces strong 3rd party control of generational propagation?

    Little to no serious thinking on behalf of a bunch of judges is no way to govern countries. Apparently many are willing to submit to an oligarchy or dictatorship, as long as we’re sexually gratified.

    Here’s an observation that needs serious thought regarding the consequences:
    In states that sanction same-sex marriage, if one sex is not essential to procreation and childraising, then neither is the other. After all you have two same-sex pairs.

  8. You know, Chris, I’m a big believer in research, and I need information before I can answer questions like yours. So I have a few questions of my own:

    1. What are the demographics of each of your so-called triple whammy? Is it the same percentage across all ethnic and economic groups, or are any in particular more represented in the class?

    2. Is childbearing a requirement for marriage? How does this affect your procreation argument, especially in light of infertile couples?

    3. If gay marriage were fully legal, what would be the percentage of “sterile couples”? What about gays who use artificial insemination and surrogate mothers for childbirth? How does this skew the demographics of the infertile crescent?

    I can’t answer your question without some more information. When you find the studies that can give me an idea of how representative, or unrepresentative, gay couples are throughout all groups, we can talk about a eugenics problem.

    Until then, you’re just blowing smoke.

  9. Rahel says:

    This Israeli has no problem with gay marriage. In the end it is a legal issue (pensions, spouse and survivors’ benefits and guardianship of children, to name a few examples) rather than an endorsement of a particular behavior.

    I don’t think God is going to zap us for extending legal rights to more human beings. My God is a good deal more understanding and compassionate than that.

  10. To answer your question, this doesn’t mean gays can marry in Israel, where only Orthodox-approved weddings are valid (at least for Jews). Conservative converts can’t even marry Jews by birth in Israel. It just means that the state recognizes such marriages (like mine) that took place under other legal jurisdictions. The ruling is unquestionably an advance for gays, but they still have to marry abroad, just like the rest of us second-class types (not that I have any intention of leaving the U.S. for Israel).

  11. Mark says:

    To echo Mike…

    Okay, so at least six Israelis (not counting the specific couples) want this.

    What about the rest of the country/government?

  12. Mark, there are far more than six Israelis who want gay rights. Go to Google News and search on “Gay Pride Parade in Israel” and see what you come up with.

    Granted, many of the religious right don’t want to see gay marriage at all. But Israel has a large secular population as well, who have no problem with gay marriage.

  13. spartan says:

    Is this not like the US, where gays can marry, but aren’t recognized by the state? It isn’t as though homosexuals who get married are breaking laws here (in the US).

  14. Tatterdemalian says:

    I somehow doubt eugenics arguments will fly here, considering what their most infamous proponent twisted them into.

    That said, I’d like to raise a family myself, and I have a good job and nice house. The only missing element is a woman who wants to have children with me. I’ve had relationships, but every one wound up with my girlfriend stating flat out that they would only engage in child-making activities with men who are not me.

    What’s my point? I’m a whiny asshole, that’s what.

  15. Meryl — I think this post could benefit from a paragraph or two about the larger context of civil marriage law in Israel. I understand that it has long been a contentious issue for Israelis, as a couple of the above comments have alluded to, but as an American goy I am somewhat hazy on the details.

  16. Marc Respass says:

    I do not understand this so-called argument about what the “people” want. I’m a heterosexual man. If get married, I do not expect my decision to be voted on by the “people.” Marriage is a legal contract. All marriages are civil unions. If I get a priest to marry a woman and me but do not get a marriage license, the state does not recognize the marriage. If two people love each other and want to file joint taxes and share benefits, let them get married. When gay people get to have marriage benefits by claiming they are partners, that is a special privilege. I can’t give benefits to my live in girlfriend but I can to a live in boy friend? Take your religion away and look at this objectively. When you remove religion from the idea of gay marriage, you cannot find an argument against it.

  17. Throbert, actually, no, I don’t think it would. We can discuss civil marriage in Israel in another post. I will say that I am completely in favor of changing the marriage laws there, but y’know, I’m not a citizen of Israel. I’m an American. So it’s simply my opinion.

  18. Mark says:

    Meryl, I simply meant that the article doesn’t say how the decision would poll in Israel. How, exactly, _does_ same sex marriage poll there?

    Gay pride parades don’t equal popular support for this kind of decision. Here in the US, not even all gays desire same sex marriage.

    If Israeli government resembles ours in any way, this is not the kind of thing I would want decided in a court. I’d think an unprecedented idea in the history of civilization should be decided by more than a court.

  19. sonicfrog says:

    Chris said:

    Little to no serious thinking on behalf of a bunch of judges is no way to govern countries.

    What a silly statement. Are you a judge? Do you have any idea how the process jurisprudence works? Maybe it’s just me, but I have a suspicion that judges put a wee bit more critical thinking into deciding cases, and have more knowledge of precedence (prior cases) than we who comment on blogs.

  20. annademo says:

    Has anyone given any consideration to how this decision will affect Islamist opinions of Israel? They already pine for Israel’s extermination, but will this decision only make them madder? Any thoughts on how this will play in Palestine, Syria, Egypt and Iran, among other countries?

  21. Well Mark,

    Do you have a problem with Brown v. Board of Education? They were certainly unprecedented, and at the time not very popular.


  22. Annademo, Israel’s very existence is the reason Islamists hate Israel.

    Your question is rather odd. Why should Israel make its policy decisions based on whether terrorists and radical Islamists like them?

    And by the way, there is no such state as “Palestine.” In the disputed territories, however, they murder gay men.

  23. Drow Rogue says:

    Yes I agree with Meryl. The problem our Arab neighbours have with us is that we exsist here and that we conquer their territories and make the lives of their “brothers” Palestines miserable, which, by the way, they do not care about at all. Who asks them, anyway? We don’t care for their opinion of what we do within our own borders.

  24. Alex Bensky says:

    This won’t affect the Western left’s opinion regarding Israel one whit. See what Meryl calls “the Exception Clause” but should be termed “the Bensky Corollary to Everything.”

    And as Laurence says, there is a Queers for Palestine group. I have written them politely once or twice asking how they reconcile their orientation with the Gay Pride Parade in Tel Aviv and the lack of anyone even thinking about such a parade in Arab countries.

    I’ll report to you all just as soon as they respond.

  25. Alex Bensky says:

    Oh, and by the way I’m not being at all facetious about this, but I am thrilled to be posting on the same thread as Virgina Postrel. I refer any of you who are unfamiliar with it to her weblog.

  26. Don Meaker says:

    Gays in Palestine? Isn’t that how the Egyptian born Arafat became a Palestinian terrorist? Caught flagrente delecto, he was given the choice of being stoned to death, or becoming a jihadist.

  27. Rajan R says:

    On those arguing against this because it may not be what the Israeli public want: however, if this was ruled on because it is a right – does it matter what the majority thinks?

    To Meryl, the ‘infertile couple’ analogy is rather flawed. An infertile heterosexual couple is infertile because of medical reasons – a same-sex couple because of anatomical reasons. But I haven’t seen any reasonable proof that civil marriage was instituted for child-rearing…

  28. Michael Devereaux says:

    – annademo Said:
    “Has anyone given any consideration to how this decision will affect Islamist opinions of Israel? They already pine for Israel’s extermination, but will this decision only make them madder? Any thoughts on how this will play in Palestine, Syria, Egypt and Iran, among other countries?”
    – I Reply:
    Thank God that we do not base our judicial decisions on what other countries might think of them. Worrying about what Palestine, Syria, Egypt and Iran think would lead all Israelis to be required by law to burn their babies alive upon birth. To sequester their women in their homes, beat them when found in public, stone them to death for adultery. In other words, if you start by considering what they think about gays to be worthy (merely because, I am sure, you despise gays), just think about what NEXT you will need to consider. Ready for the full burqha, are you?

  29. frmby97 says:

    I don’t understand how a Jewish country can recognize gay marriage. The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob condemns homosexuality and says they will not inherit the kingdom of Heaven. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed for this type of behavior in Genesis. The Old Testament clearly speaks out against homosexuality. How can Israel support it?

  30. LynnB says:


    The Israeli government is in fact very different from ours. For one thing, they don’t have a constitution. For another, it’s a parliamentary system, which I’m not even going to begin to try to explain. Israel has a law that says marriages performed and recognized by authorities outside the State will be recognized and honored within the State. There’s current no exception in that Law for same sex marriages. So the High Court simply followed the Law.

    My guess is that there will now be a campaign to add an exception to the Law in the very near future. We’ll see where that goes.

    In one respect, Israel is not different from the US. The judiciary doesn’t make decisions based on polls. Thank God.

  31. LynnB says:

    frmby97 –

    Nowhere in the Hebrew Bible does the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob condemn homosexuality or say anything whatsoever about inheriting the kingdom of heaven. Other than one verse in Leviticus prohibiting an act that, strictly speaking, is impossible to perform, the Tanach doesn’t address this issue at all.

    And there’s nothing in the Biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah about censensual homosexual sex. Oddly enough, the story condemns homosexual rape, while seeming to condone heterosexual rape, but that’s another debate for another day.

    All of which is more or less tangential to the question of how Israel, which is NOT a theocracy, can recognize gay marriages performed in Canada. For the answer to that, see Rahel’s comment above.

  32. wolfa says:

    I love the “but what if the rest of the Middle East ends up hating Israel more?” responses. (By which we mean governments, not individual people.) How much more can they hate Israel?

    Of course an infertile couple can be infertile because of anatomical reasons — you can have a ill-shaped uterus, say, or one of a zillion other anatomical things gone wrong. Or perhaps you can be past menopause.

    If all marriages depend on having children to be raising — well, lots of straight couples will be suddenly unmarried. (It can’t be the potential for having kids: anyone can adopt.)

  33. Kev says:


    “Other than one verse in Leviticus prohibiting an act that, strictly speaking, is impossible to perform, the Tanach doesn’t address this issue at all. “

    Can you explain why it is impossible to preform this?

    According to Leviticus:
    You shall not lie down with a male, as with a woman: this is an abomination.

    What is this referring to if not homosexual relationships?


  34. LynnB says:

    Kev –

    That is, of course, the verse I was referring to. And if you can’t figure out why that’s physically impossible if construed literally, I can’t help you. (But see: anatomy 101)

    Please also note that neither this commandment nor any other makes any reference to lesbianism. And please don’t tell me it should be inferred. In the very next verse, there are two separate (and unambiguous) prohibitions against sex with animals – one for men and one for women.

  35. Chris says:

    Meryl, did you do your homework yet?

  36. Chris, oh, man. The cat ate my homework. Sorry.

    (I’ll go see if I can find it.)

  37. scott jeffreys says:

    an above poster said that when you remove religion from the argument you cant find reasons to prohibit gay marriage. this is not so. here are a couple of arguments:

    (1) the legalization of gay marriage further legitimisizes homosexuality. This is not good. Homosexual intercourse is very risky. When you legitimisize something it increases the likelyhood of pepople experimenting with it who otherwise wouldnt. Why encourage a lifestyle that is risky?

    (2) With gay marriage comes the legalization of gay adoption. Men and women are different, and two men or two women cant give to a child what a man and woman can, unless of course you beleive there is no difference between the sexes. Children need both parents.

    (3) How can you legalize gay marriage and not legalize polyamourous relationships? If this is a justice issue how can you deny justice to people who want the state to recongize multiple partner relationships? Especially since some people feel they were born with an attraction to people of both sexes?

  38. Kev says:


    I don’t know if you are trying to be rude and offensive to divert attention away from the fact that you don’t have a reasonable answer to my question or if you are just naive of your poor choice of words; nevertheless, please just answer the last part of my original post to you:

    What is Leviticus 18:22 referring to if not homosexual relationships?

    Again, this is the verse in question:
    “You shall not lie down with a male, as with a woman: this is an abomination.”

    Please, don’t get defensive – I truly don’t understand what else this could possibly be referring to, symbolizing, or suggesting if not homosexual relationships.

    Thank you.

  39. Kev says:

    Please also note that this verse is in the sexual purity section of Leviticus in the midst of commandments describing the many sexual relationships that are prohibited.

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