MK announces she is starting a family with gay friend
After waiting out for the more common order of finding a husband and then marrying, MK Meirav Ben-Ari from the Kulanu Party decided to become a mother on her own terms, by having a child with a gay friend; ‘We all walk around with this dream of meeting a knight and falling in love,’ said Ben-Ari. ‘But at some point you need to wake up and realize that knights can mainly be found on television.’
MK Meirav Ben-Ari (Kulanu) came out with a big announcement just prior to Rosh Hashanah: namely, that she was pregnant and having a baby with a gay friend of hers. “I don’t want to set off a rumor mill, with people wondering how a single woman at the Knesset is suddenly pregnant. So I’m saying it out right: I’m pregnant and everything’s alright,” stated Ben-Ari. “I’m not the first MK to get pregnant, but I am the first single MK to get pregnant by a gay friend without getting married.”
And is that stressful?
“A little. I’ve always felt that a career comes at the expense of a relationship, especially at the Knesset. A lot of wives and mothers working at the Knesset manage to find someone in the Opposition willing to skip on a voting session, so that they could go home. But I’m staying in office. On the one hand, it’s great—in a year and a half I’ve managed to pass three laws. On the other hand, sometimes I tell myself that if I had a husband and kids, I would invest more in myself.”
So what’s changed?
“The realization that time flies. Two years ago I told my mother that I don’t have anything of my own. I don’t have a home—I was the only one in the Kulanu Party to register for (Finance Minister Moshe) Kahlon’s initiative in the Ministry of Construction and Housing, I don’t have a car—since mine belongs to the Knesset—and I don’t have a child. So I spoke to Ofir, a good friend of mine who’s also a wise, gay man with a great deal of spirit, and I told him, ‘Let’s have a kid and raise him,’ and Ofir said yes. I’m coming out with all this to inspire and give courage to other women, to give them the strength not to give up on their right to have children, even if they don’t have a partner.”
Will you be bothered by some of the expected responses to this?
“I have a lot of good friends in the Knesset, and hopefully they’ll happily accept the pregnancy. Kids are a happy thing, especially when you’re almost 41.”
What did Kahlon say?
“Oh, he was so excited. I saw a sparkle in his eyes. He hugged me and said—jokingly, of course—that if anyone asks, I should tell them he was the father. That’s how much he’ll have this kid’s back.”
The thought of having a child with Ofir, 41, who works at a senior position at a financial firm and is in a relationship with another man, began to take root before Ben-Ari turned 40. “I noticed that almost all my girlfriends were married, getting pregnant and having children and that time was not on my side. I started getting nervous that I was going to miss my chance, but at the same time it’s hard to reach a point where you know that if you don’t act now, you’re going to miss out. Because we all walk around with this dream of meeting a knight, falling in love and walking into the sunset together. Of having a kid with a mommy and daddy and marriage. But at some point you need to wake up and realize that knights can mainly be found on television. Sometimes I think, ‘Good for all those women who get pregnant from sperm donors,’ but conversely, when you’re part of a pair, there’s someone there to hold your hand.”
But what about a full partner? What about love?
“I really believe in love, I want a relationship. I didn’t want to keep waiting because of my biological clock, but I still await the day when I meet a partner with whom I can create a home.”
Ben-Ari burst on the scene in 2005, as the winner of the reality show “Needed: A Leader.” She used the NIS 5 million of prize money to set up a chain of at-risk youth centers in Netanya and Herzliya. In 2013, she was elected to the Tel Aviv City Council. In 2015, she joined Kulanu and was elected to the Knesset.
She explained her move to national politics by saying, “After ten years of running the centers, I wanted to do something bigger.” She added, “My focus is on education and welfare, the young, students and single mothers. That’s what I’m interested in and what I’ve been doing my entire life. The law I’m most proud of (promoting) deals with expanding a study grant for single-parent children all the way up to the 12th grade. I’m responsible for the fact that this year, 70,000 kids got a NIS 1,000 study grant.”
“I’m also working to provide financial assistance to homeless young people who need to pay the rent,” said Ben-Ari. “I’m a member of six different committees, including the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, and am active on matters involving child support, at-risk children and informal education. I also head the student lobby and was voted the MK who has voted in the most socially conscious way within the coalition. When you’re part of the coalition, you’re able to have a substantial influence on promoting and bringing about change.”