Originally published on Advocate.com December 09 2004 1:00 AM ET
Israel's attorney general has granted legal recognition to same-sex couples in financial and other business matters, his office said Wednesday, prompting an outcry from some ultra-Orthodox Jews, who consider the decision sacrilegious. Atty. Gen. Meni Mazuz said the couples will be treated the same as common-law spouses, recognizing them as legal units for tax, real estate, and financial purposes.
Mazuz made his decision by refusing to appeal a district court ruling in an inheritance case that recognized the legality of a same-sex union, his office said in a statement. Mazuz did differentiate, however, between recognizing same-sex unions for financial and practical purposes, as he did, and changing the law to officially sanction the unions, which would be a matter for parliament, according to the statement.
Gay rights activists cheered the decision. "This is very dramatic," said Irit Rosenblum, director of the New Family Organization, which advocates legal recognition of gay partners. "Practically, this is a declaration recognizing the family with same-sex parents. People won't sweep this under the table anymore and say it doesn't exist."
David Batzri, a prominent rabbi, lashed out at the ruling, saying it endorsed homosexuality and will bring God's vengeance and possibly even another great flood upon Israel. "There were such laws in Sodom," his son, Rabbi Yitzhak Batzri, told Army Radio. "The Torah, our book of laws, says that such things are sacrilegious," he said. "To make this permissible and positive...is very grave. Instead we need to help these people to come out of this."