The Israeli Knesset [official website] Wednesday rejected a bill that would have legalized civil marriages in the country. The "Freedom of Choice in Marriage" bill was proposed to allow marriages not approved by Jewish Law [Jerusalem Post report], including same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] and marriages between a Jewish person and a gentile. Currently marriages in Israel are only conducted in religious institutions, and the bill would have allowed the creation of civil marriages not recognized by the Chief Rabbinate. Knesset Member Nitzan Horowitz [official profile] submitted the bill [Shalom Life report] to the Knesset earlier this month. He had submitted the bill twice before but each time it was dismissed during its preliminary reading. While proceeding to a vote this time, the bill was rejected 39-11.
Courts across the globe have struggled to define rights for same-sex couples. Earlier this week Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee signed an executive order [JURIST report] requiring government agencies to recognize same-sex marriages performed out-of-state. Earlier this month voters in North Carolina passed a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage [JURIST report] in that state. In March Israel's Ramat Gan Family Court ruled that a lesbian couple can both be recognized as mothers of a child they had together, finding that it would defy logic and common sense to deny parental rights to both women. Although same-sex couples continue to be unable to marry legally in Israel, the Supreme Court of Israel ruled in 2006 that the government must recognize same-sex marriages ordained abroad [JURIST report].