Four Gay Israeli Couples to Wed in Canada; Will Take Demand for Recognition to Israeli Supreme Court
Four gay Israeli couples to wed in Canada; will take demand for recognition to Israeli Supreme Court
Friday March 11, 2005
By BETH DUFF-BROWN
Associated Press Writer
TORONTO (AP) Four gay Israeli couples preparing to take their wedding vows in Canada on Friday said they hoped to break down marriage barriers in their orthodox nation as well as open doors for all homosexuals and lesbians seeking to have their unions officially recognized.
Etai Pinkas, 31, a member of the Tel Aviv city council, and his boyfriend of five years, 32-year-old Yoav Arad, said they know when they go back home, they will have to fight to get their marriage registered. Pinkas said he is prepared to go the Israeli Supreme Court, if necessary.
``We’ve been living in, quote `sin,’ for five and a half years and nothing is really going to change in our day-to-day lives,’’ Arad, the manager of a real estate company in Tel Aviv, said of the formal marriage ceremony. ``But I personally don’t feel that the state should be allowed to permit, or not permit, our partnership.’’
Pot Pouri for the Newly Weds - Pinkas & Arad
Photo by AP
They came to Toronto, the capital of Ontario, because the province is one of seven in Canada that allows marriage among same-sex couples. The Canadian Parliament is debating legislation that would legalize gay marriage nationwide.
The Netherlands and Belgium currently are the only countries that permit couples of the same sex to wed, though one member of the couple must be a citizen of that nation. Several other countries allow some form of civil unions, but they generally don’t oblige the state to grant the same rights and protections as men and women have under traditional marriages.
In Israel, the Orthodox rabbinate has exclusive control of Jewish marriages. That means non-Orthodox rabbis are not allowed to perform marriage ceremonies, an increasingly unpopular law among Israelis which leads to many couples going overseas to marry in civil ceremonies. Orthodox rabbis consider homosexuality an abomination and refuse to condone same-sex marriages.
Under international norms, Israel should recognize a Canadian marriage license. However, a spokesman for the Israeli Interior Ministry, Sabin Hadad, said Israeli law does not recognize same-sex marriages, no matter where they occur. ``The moment it does, we will register them,’’ he said.
Jacob Galanti, a Justice Ministry spokesman, said that while Israel does not permit gay unions, ``it does recognize the social and economic rights of the partners.’’
Not entirely, according to Russell Lord and Ari Ozeri, another of the four couples to wed at Toronto City Hall. The two men, both 47, have been together for 23 years.
Ozeri said he worked for one of the largest banks in Israel for 21 years, yet his pension would not go to Lord should he die before his partner.
``He’s not allowed to get a penny and that’s just not fair,’’ said Ozeri, who now works in the hotel industry in Tel Aviv.
``I don’t need City Hall or any priest or rabbi to tell me what we have together,’’ said Lord, a tour operator. ``But it’s just not fair that we pay our taxes and do our military service like every other responsible citizen, but we don’t have any rights.’’
The couples were being followed for several days by Out TV, a Canadian cable network devoted to gay lifestyles. The show, ``I Now Pronounce You ...,’’ which focuses on gay weddings in Canada and the United States, will be hosted by Canadian comedian Trevor Boris and will air in August.
(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)