Oy Gay: Israel Grants First Same-Sex Divorce

 @MayaErgas
on December 05 2012 2:43 PM
Pro-gay marriage advocate in Israel
A T-shirt vendor attends an annual gay pride parade in Jerusalem July 28, 2011. Reuters/Baz Ratner

Gay marriage isn't legal in Israel, but as of Monday, gay divorce is.

An Israeli court has granted a divorce to a gay couple who were married in Canada in 2004, the Jewish Telegraph Agency said

The former couple, Tel Aviv University chemistry professor Uzi Even and former Member of the Knesset Amit Kama lived together for 10 years before tying the knot in 2004, the Times of Israel reported

In 2006 Even and Kama filed suit in Israel's Supreme Court to have their marriage recognized. Israel does not have civil unions, and all marriages performed in the country must be approved by the Chief Rabbinate Council, comprised of two elected rabbis. Gay marriage is not legal.

After a lengthy court battle, Even and Kama won their suit, bypassed the rabbinate and got their marriage recognized in Israel in an unprecedented move. On Monday, the court's ruling again bypassed the rabbinate, another unprecedented move. The couple has been separated for three years.

The High Court has recognized a total of five same-sex couples, all married in Canada. Judge Yehezkel Eliyue told Haaretz that since the court had registered these marriages, "the possibility cannot be considered that petitioners who have agreed to end their marriage should remain tied to each other."

"This runs contrary to the rights and liberties of the individual," Eliyue said. "It goes against basic laws and the basic values of justice and equality."

The presence and authority of the rabbinate is especially consternating for secular Jews, who bristle at having a single religious authority control aspects of their lives like marriage and divorce.

"From my point of view, even if the state appeals and we have to keep going down this road, the verdict shows the beginning of the undermining of the rabbinate," Kama told Haaretz. "I am very happy that we may have made a breakthrough."

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