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First same-sex
marriage recognized in Israel

First same-sex
marriage recognized in Israel

A gay couple married in Canada last year have become the first to be recognized by the Israeli government under a pro-gay November court ruling.

The Jerusalem interior ministry has recorded Israel's first same-sex marriage, following a court order to register same-sex unions from abroad. Avi and Binyamin Rose were married in Canada in June and have taken advantage of the November court ruling to become recognized as a married couple in Jerusalem.

On November 29 the Israeli high court of justice ruled that the government must register same-sex marriages of those wed in countries where it is legal. The registration, however, serves to collect statistics and does not require the official recognition of marriage rights.

Marriage in Israeli law can be conducted only by a rabbi. Winning the right to same-sex marriage faces an uphill battle in the country, with Israel's religious authorities holding a monopoly over marriage and divorce.

Nonetheless, the happy couple were delighted to be the first to break in the new law. "It was wonderful to get married at the City Hall in Toronto, but it was far more important for the state of Israel to recognize us as a couple," Avi Rose told the JerusalemPost.

Said Avi, who works with the Young Judaea youth movement: "We did the civil ceremony in the hopes that we would eventually be able to make legal what we felt inside. We wanted the government of Israel to recognize that we are a couple."

Binyamin, a therapist, explained that the clerks "were a little confused by our application, but they made the necessary changes to the forms and they came through beautifully for us."

Moshe Negbi, a legal expert, said the court's decision is mostly symbolic because same-sex couples in Israel already have many of the rights that straight partners do. The significant changes are that they will now get the same tax breaks as a married couple and be able to adopt children, Negbi said. (Hassan Mirza,

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