Dr. Jillian T. Weiss

Same-Sex Couple Seeks Recognition By Israel

Filed By Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | July 18, 2011 11:15 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Bayardo Alvarez, Haredi Shas, Israel, Israeli government, Joshua Goldberg, marriage equality, same-sex marriage

Shas.JPGAccording to a report in the Jewish Daily Forward, an American Jewish man, Joshua Goldberg, who emigrated to Israel on June 10 of this year with his partner, whom he married in Canada two years ago, is petitioning the Israeli Interior Ministry to give his husband citizenship. His petition, filed four months ago, has yet to receive a response.

Under Israeli Law, Jews have an unrestricted right to immigrate to Israel and receive citizenship under the "Law of Return," and so does his or her "spouse," even if that spouse is not Jewish.

Goldberg was originally told by officials that his husband, Bayardo Alvarez, could have citizenship. When the couple's visas came through in February, however, Goldberg received citizenship, but Alvarez received only temporary residency.

As a result, Alvarez was ineligible for all but one of the state-funded absorbtion programs to which those immigrating under the Law of Return are entitled. Absorbtion programs are designed to integrate immigrants into Israeli society, permitting them intensive study in Hebrew and Israeli culture at state cost. These programs are conveniently located all around the country. A state subsidy is also provided to assist with housing and other living costs while immigrants become acculturated, giving them time to find housing and employment when they first arrive.

However, instead of receiving 33,110 shekels ($9,500) between them in state assistance for relocating, they receive 17,368 shekels ($5,000) as a payment to Goldberg alone.

Alvarez, a 33 year old florist, enrolled in the one program available to him, located in Eilat, a seacoast town. But classes were currently on a break, so they left after three weeks.

The Interior Ministry is controlled by the Haredi Shas party, a right-wing ultra-Orthodox political party. Shas is a strong advocate of governing using traditional Jewish law, such as laws prohibiting various activities on the Sabbath. The party has been able to exert disproportionate influence by gaining control of the balance of power in the Israeli parliament. It is skeptical towards the US Obama Administration's intentions regarding the peace process. It also opposes any form of public expression of homosexuality, including LGBT pride parades.

According to the Forward, "legal experts believe that if the Interior Ministry does not meet the couple's July 31 deadline and the two petition the high court, judges will be hard-pressed to reject them." It quotes Tel Aviv University law professor Aeyal Gross, an expert on constitutional law and gay and lesbian rights, as saying that Israel has a history of recognizing marriages that it doesn't allow to be performed in its jurisdiction. It also cites the couple's lawyer, Nicky Maor of the Israel Religious Action Center, who noted that the Law of Return, unlike citizenship laws, uses the word '"spouse," rather than "husband" and "wife."

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Now we know what is meant by "Judeo-Christian" religion. It means that both can freely and openly practice homophobia!