ISRAEL: Knesset Rejects Civil Unions
The Knesset voted down two bills regarding civil unions and marriage on Wednesday with a majority vote of 50 to 39 for each bill. The first bill, proposed by Yesh Atid MK Aliza Lavie sought to create civil unions, an alternative for those who could not have their weddings officiated by the rabbinate or other religious authorities, such as gay couples, couples of different religions, a cohen and a divorcee, etc. “We have to allow a civil alternative for all of the couples who do not want to go through the rabbinate,” Lavie said upon her submission of the bill this past June. “I believe that the path of civil unions will do civil justice and will lead more people to want to get married through the religious system, because it will have to make itself more efficient and be managed properly.” The second bill, composed by Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On focused on the concept of civil marriages and divorces.RELATED: Civil marriages are not available to any Israeli citizen. LGBT Israelis who marry abroad can register those weddings with the government "for statistical purposes." In 1994 Israel extended "unregistered cohabitation status" to same-sex couples in a form of common-law marriage that grants nearly all the benefits of religious marriages. Last year the Interior Minister announced that gay Israelis who marry non-Jews abroad may sponsor their spouses for citizenship.