Israel’s High Court has ruled that gay marriages conducted abroad must be recognized by the state of Israel. The government is balking at this decision, but as I understand it, it’s now going to be legally binding.

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, Army Radio reported.

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

The gay petitioners sought to force the state to give equal recognition to common law marriages of heterosexual couples to those of gay marriages, which can be performed in certain countries.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel that filed the petition on the behalf of the couples, argued before the court that the Interior Ministry’s refusal to register them as married compromises their right to equality and to hold family life, and is based on “homophobe social perceptions.”

The court rejected the position of the State Attorney, that states recognizing single-sex marriages cannot expect Israel to recognize such nuptial agreements drawn in these countries.

On the very same day it has been reported that Chief Rabbi Amar, who was behind the Israeli Rabbinate’s refusal a couple of months ago to accept certain Orthodox conversions conducted in the US, has submitted a request to Olmert to stop accepting any foreign converts from any streams as Jews upon their arrival in Israel.

Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar has proposed amending the Law of Return so that converts to all three principal streams of Judaism – Reform, Conservative and Orthodox – would no longer be eligible for automatic Israeli citizenship.

In an interview with Israel Radio Tuesday morning, Amar commented on his proposal.

“We don’t want a situation where the Law of Return and the rights that it grants are being used indiscriminately,” Amar said. “[The proposal] relates to the conversion aspect of the Law of Return, and to those who convert. They are able to come as citizens through other laws, and that is fine. They can come and request citizenship. There are a lot of people that do this, and of course they will be considered.”

If Amar’s proposal is approved by the Knesset, only Jews born to a Jewish mother or other relatives of Jews currently covered by the Law of Return would be entitled to automatic citizenship.

Sources close to Amar said the proposal was presented to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday in the hope that the cabinet would sponsor it as a bill in the Knesset.

Nobody has said what the legal status will be of a gay man who makes aliyah after he converts to Judaism with a Reform rabbi in the US and then marries in Canada an Israeli-born gay man who served in the IDF but was born to Russian olim where the wife (his mother) has questionable Jewish lineage.

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  • TM – Your final analysis is perfect.

    Olmert has bigger fish to fry than this parsing of a non issue. Frankly, I would think Rav Amar does as well.

    If an individual who has undertaken the process to become a Jew wishes to make aliyah – I would like Rav Amar to tell each one personally that he or she does not qualify as a Jew in his eyes.

  • Wonderfully written. I’m a gay man who converted through the Reform stream and have subsequently gone to Israel twice for short visits, and I have met an Israeli man with whom I have fallen deeply in love. We have just begun a dialogue with a Reform shaliach in New York in hopes of my making aliyah ASAP. We talked about marrying in Cyprus. Nice to know (or at least have some kind of hope) that it would actually be a binding marriage in Israeli society. Thanks. 😀