JERUSALEM The land where Jesus once walked soon will recognize "gay marriage."
In a landmark 6-1 decision, Israel's Supreme Court Nov. 21 ordered the government to begin recognizing "gay marriages" from other countries, such as Canada. Although the decision doesn't give homosexual couples the ability to "marry" within Israel's borders, it nonetheless puts Israel at odds with countries such as Great Britain and the United States, neither of which recognizes foreign "gay marriages." In fact, the U.S. government doesn't even recognize "gay marriages" that occur within its borders in Massachusetts, the lone state where it is legal.
Four countries Canada, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands have legalized "gay marriage," and a fifth one, South Africa, is expected to do so within days.
The ruling by the High Court of Justice the name for Israel's highest court gives homosexual couples the same legal benefits as traditional couples, including tax breaks and the ability to adopt, The Jerusalem Post reported. The decision forces the government to register the "marriages" like it does any other marriages.
"We don't have a Jewish state here. We have Sodom and Gomorrah here," lawmaker Moshe Gafni told Israel's Army Radio, according to the Associated Press. "I assume that every sane person in the state of Israel, possibly the entire Jewish world, is shocked, because the significance is ... the destruction of the family unit in the state of Israel."
The lawsuit was brought by five homosexual couples who were "married" in other countries and wanted to have their licenses recognized in Israel. One of the couples was Sefi Bar-Lev, 40, and Yaron Lahav, 29, the Toronto Star reported.
"This is a great step forward. But we are still at the beginning," Bar-Lev told the Star. "The law in Israel is opening up, but whether you are gay or heterosexual, the rule here is still that unless you want to marry the religious Orthodox way, you must still leave the country to get married. So there is more struggle ahead to win the right to have civil ceremonies in Israel. But today we can see there is momentum in the right direction."
The United States has a law known as the Defense of Marriage Act preventing the federal government from recognizing "gay marriages." Homosexual activists hope to see it overturned in court someday, but the major homosexual groups have yet to file suit, saying the legal timing isn't right.
In Britain, a court ruled in July that the government isn't required to recognize "gay marriages" from Canada.
The Israeli court ruling was issued nearly two weeks after a "gay pride" parade in Jerusalem was cancelled following pressure from Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders and concern over Islamic terrorist violence. Despite the cancellation, in recent years homosexual activists in Israel have won legal and political battles that activists in America have not. For instance, homosexuals in Israel can serve openly in the military. America's "don't ask, don't tell" policy prevents such open service, with U.S. military leaders saying open service would harm morale and cohesion.
"[The decision] shows that the homosexual agenda is global," Peter LaBarbera, president of the conservative organization Americans for Truth, told Baptist Press. "America may have to stand alone, but we stand alone in a lot of things."
The Israel ruling, LaBarbera said, is another example of how "gay marriage" laws in one locality can have a broad impact.
"It is essential to do everything you can to protect marriage wherever you are in a state or a nation. You have to take precautionary measures. Here in Illinois, [marriage amendment opponents] would tell us, 'We already have a law [prohibiting gay marriage],'" said LaBarbera, whose organization is based in the state. "Well, you know full well that they want to change the law or get some sort of court edict to change the law."