Photo: Reuters
Narrow legal interpretation (Illustration)
Photo: Reuters

Judge: Common law marriage rights exclude gays

Beersheba Family Court judge negates man's rights to late lover's estate; says only legitimate view of legal term of 'man and wife' is man and woman. Ruling a setback for same-sex couples' rights

Same-sax couples suffer setback Tuesday: Beersheba Family Court Judge Yeshayahu Tischler ruled that the term "man and wife" will mean only one thing in the eyes of the law - "In my opinion, the only legitimate interoperation for this term is male and female," he said.


The ruling, which was given after a lengthy legal battle over the inheritance of an academic figure that passed away, negated several previous rulings recognizing long-term relationships between same-sex couples as equal to common law marriage, awarding partners the same legal rights.


Tischler's ruling also goes against a High Court of Justice ruling, saying that same-sex couples can be considered as having a common law marriage if they meet the standard legal criteria.


"Reality had changed since the legislators set this law in 1965, but regardless of the public's tolerance of same-sex couples… any other interpretation seems forced to me, even if it is meant to serve social values of liberalism," the judge said.


Justice Tischler chose a simple metaphor to explain his perception: "Life has taught us that a key that does not match a lock will leave us with a lock on one hand, and a key that cannot fulfill its destiny."


"The use of said key should be wise, otherwise the key may break and the lock may be damaged," he continued, concluding that "The claim in not viable, neither from an evidentiary perspective, nor from a legal one."


The legal battle in question raged between the deceased's sister and his partner of over 20 years. The deceased's will left his estate to the sister, but the man's lover claimed that having had a long-term relationship with him, he was entitled to part of the estate.


In his claim, the plaintiff alleged that the relationship was a secret, since the deceased feared for his standing in academia should his sexual preference be discovered.


The man's attorneys claimed that the deceased had made a second will, including his lover in it. The second will was hand written, they added, and was now in the possession of the sister, who is hiding it from the court.


The court said that the two men's relationship does not meet the criteria for common law marriage. "There is no doubt that the deceased and S. had a special relationship, based on the deceased's wish to help S., who was a troubled youth, rehabilitate his life.


"Nevertheless, this relationship was socio-altruistic on the part of the deceased, and not a romantic one."


The court also rejected the plaintiff's claim that the deceased's sister was hiding a second will.


The plaintiff informed the court that he would be appealing the ruling before the Beersheba District Court, arguing Tischler's ruling went against previous rulings recognizing the rights of same-sex couples.


Attorney Boaz Kraus, for the deceased's sister, was pleased with the court's decision: "This is an important ruling, which sets clear boundaries regarding the inheritance rights of same-sex partners."




פרסום ראשון: 10.05.10, 17:45
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