A member of the Presidium of the Bayit Yehudi Party, Rabbi Yisrael Rosen, who was considered one of the most important rabbis in the religious Zionism movement, announced that he was resigning from the party because of the employment of a lesbian speaker by the Party chairman and Minister of Education, Naftali Bennett.
About a month ago, Yedioth Ahronoth reported that Brit Galor Peretz, media advisor to Minister Bennett, was raising her two children together with her female partner Adi.
Glor Peretz decided to come out as gay following the controversy that broke out after the state announced it would not allow single-parent couples to adopt children.
Her partner Adi wrote a moving post on Facebook, in which she said: "My name is Adi, and my love is called Brit. We have two children, one born exactly a month ago. Two children we chose to bring to the happy and good world. Two children we chose to build a family with. Two children can show you what a happy childhood looks like when you look into their eyes. When you look at them you see a home filled with smiles and confidence, a home filled with love and respect, a home filled with warmth and good words and optimism."
Following the post, Bennett supported his spokesperson: "I appreciate people for their character and not for their sexual orientation."
But in the Jewish home, not everyone welcomed the gay speaker.
On Tuesday, Rabbi Rosen, head of the Zomet Institute and a member of the party presidium, sent a letter to the heads of the Jewish home explaining that he had decided to resign because a lesbian speaker could not represent a religious party.
"I expressed a critical position on the chairman for turning his back on the party on issues of religion and state and leaving this arena solely for the ultra-Orthodox," wrote Rosen. "It's no wonder they hire a gay person as party speaker.
"I have nothing against it or against them, but I think that this community is wrong and defiant and that outwardly expressed homosexuality is an impossibility in a party that purports to represent religious Zionism."
Rosen's announcement stirred up a storm within the party and even drew comments from outside it. Minister Bennett uploaded a photograph of a Yedioth Ahronoth article about it to his Twitter account and wrote: "Anyone who thinks that I should discriminate against a person because of his sexual orientation, gender or color will encounter a total refusal. A human being, every man, is created in the (lord's) image."
Sources in the Religious Zionism movement claimed yesterday that Bennett does not hesitate to confront his voters on issues of principle: "This is a step of genuine leadership, which does not try to please its constituency. Bennett is aware of the political price he is liable to pay, but he is doing what is right in his opinion."
Bennett's reaction drew many comments from people within his party and from outside it.
Former Education Minister Limor Livnat (Likud) expressed strong support of Bennett: "Way to go Minister Bennett!! Much respect!! Where are the masses of members of the gay community? Show your support. Clearly. And Loudly."
MK Merav Ben-Ari (Kulanu) wrote about Bennett's comments on Twitter: "A proper and important tweet. Not surprised, truth be told, after the support to Igy (the Israeli Gay Youth organization) and the introduction of Hoshen (a non-profit LGBT education organization) to schools."
Meanwhile, the extremist elements in the Bayit Yehudi Party expressed opposition to Bennett's liberal line.
MK Moti Yogev told Army Radio that he "would not employ a lesbian spokeswoman."