‘The Law Has to Catch Up’

Why same-sex couples in Israel are flying to Denmark to have their marriages recognized

Eli Kaplan-Wildmann
Eli Kaplan-Wildmann

In a few weeks Eli and Ron will celebrate their relationship with a wedding to be held at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. There will be food, friends, music and a ceremony. But as far as the state of Israel is concerned, no marriage will have taken place, because the state does not recognize gay marriage. However, gay couples married outside Israel are registered as married on their return.

So shortly after their wedding, the newlyweds will fly to Denmark in order to hold a second wedding, one that can be registered officially upon their return to Israel. Denmark is the ideal country for gay couples to get married in, Eli Kaplan-Wildmann, told The Media Line. Not only does it have some of the most progressive recognition of the rights of same-sex people to marry, it also doesn’t have a residency requirement. While most secular Israelis go to Cyprus when they wish to marry outside of Israel’s strict religious marriage laws, gay couples fly to Denmark, Kaplan-Wildmann said, because same-sex marriage is not permitted in Cyprus.

All issues of personal status, including marriage and divorce are under the control of the Orthodox rabbinic authorities in Israel, in a decision that goes back to the creation of the state. There is no civil marriage in Israel, only religious marriage, although civil marriages are retroactively recognized by the government. The issue of gays is especially problematic.

Kaplan-Wildmann, an Orthodox Jewish theater director, says Israeli society, and even the more liberal parts of the Orthodox world, accept his sexual orientation.

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