Decision angers Ultra-Orthodox religious leaders who oppose gay rights
JERUSALEM Israel’s attorney general has decided that same-sex couples can adopt children, a victory for Israeli gays that has infuriated the country’s conservative religious establishment.
The decision by Attorney General Meni Mazuz, announced by Israel’s Justice Ministry on Sunday, Feb. 10, follows other recent successes for Israeli gays.
Court decisions in recent years have forced the government to recognize same-sex marriages performed abroad and grant gay couples inheritance rights and benefits given to other married Israelis.
"In certain circumstances, when it is for the good of the adopted child, it is possible to agree to requests from same-sex couples to adopt a child who is not the child of one of the partners," according to the announcement of Mazuz’s decision.
By interpreting the term "couple" as meaning either a man and a woman or two people of the same sex, Mazuz has made what could be a revolutionary change with implication for other laws, said lawyer Irit Rosenblum, founder of the New Family organization, which works for the rights of same-sex couples.
"There is a declaration here: We recognize that there are new family units that are different but valid," Rosenblum said.
Before Mazuz’s decision, same-sex Israeli couples have been able to adopt children if one partner adopted a child abroad as a single parent, Rosenblum said. The new decision renders such loopholes unnecessary.
Israeli law gives jurisdiction over marriage and divorce to Orthodox rabbis, who have traditionally opposed granting rights to same-sex couples. Mazuz’s decision immediately drew fire from ultra-Orthodox lawmakers.
"It isn’t natural to treat marriage this way, and it isn’t natural to raise children this way. If nature created that marriage is a father and a mother, then that’s how it should be," said Yakov Cohen of United Torah Judaism, an ultra-Orthodox party.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 15, 2008