Gay rights groups may have to put the corks back in their champagne bottles if MK Michael Eitan (Likud) has anything to say about it. On Wednesday Eitan introduced a new bill opposing the High Court of Justice's recent decision to allow same-sex couples married abroad to register in Israel's population registry as legally wed.
The bill successfully passed its initial assembly reading, and will be required to pass three Knesset readings and other legislative proceedings.
33 MK's voted for the bill while 31 voted against it, among its ardent supporters were members of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party – who are also members of the coalition. Following the High Court ruling former Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu called "all the parties to unite and to make a law against this thing, against the High Court."
Numerous other MK's slammed the decision, including MK Eitan who said that "the only way to introduce an institution that is revolutionary and hurtful, at least to some of the public, like same-sex marriage, needs to be the result of a social-political process that ends in legislation and not through technical bureaucracy devoid of any moral approach.
Eitan's bill proposes that the population registry refuse to recognize same-sex marriage until those marriages are explicitly recognized by the law. MK Eitan added that he hopes that now a process of parliamentary and public discourse can begin on the issue.
High Court sets precedent
The High Court ruled on the matter two weeks ago, by a majority of six judges, only Justice Elyakim Rubinstein opposed. Justice Aharon Barak, who wrote the ruling, explained that the court is not interfering in decisions made by different countries regarding the recognition of homosexual couples.
"We are ruling that as part of the population registry's statistic-registration status, and in light of the registry clerk's duty to collect statistic material in order to manage the registry, the registry clerk must register in the population registry what is revealed in the public document submitted to him by the petitioners, according to which the petitioners are married."
Barak further clarified: "We are not ruling that marriage of people of the same sex is recognized in Israel; we are not recognizing a new status of such marriage; we are not expressing any position regarding the recognition of same-sex marriage conducted outside Israel."
Supreme Court President Dorit Beinish supported Barak's ruling: "A long-standing judicial tradition created and based the distinction in our system between the population registry, its duty and the boundaries of its authority, and the most difficult issues of determining personal status.