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Israel Gay MarriageDivorce has long been widely accepted and embedded into the social culture of the United States. But in other cultures, especially in many Middle Eastern countries, the idea of divorce is very much taboo. Marriage is considered sacred in many cultures, but very much so in the Jewish and Islamic faiths. The prospect of divorce and other social polarizing issues, such as same-sex marriage, are still viewed in an unfavorable light. But from Jewish culture comes a story of change and perhaps a sign of more progressive thinking and understanding for equal rights for all types of couples.

First Israeli Same-Sex Divorce

The Israeli family courts recently made waves by granting the first official divorce to same-sex couples. A Tel Aviv university Professor, Uzi Even, who was also the first known openly gay member if Israeli parliament, the Knesset, along with his now former partner, Dr. Amit Kama, were granted a divorce on Sunday, December 2nd by the Ramat Gan Family Court. It was made official by the interior minister, and recorded and registered as a divorce, the first time the courts have ever done so.

Even and Kama were married in Canada in 2004 after living together for more than a decade. However, as is the law, only Canadian citizens can be divorced in Canada. Both Even and Kama also have the distinction of being the first same-sex male couple to have their legal right to adoption recognized.

Landmark Case

In 2006, a case filed by five male Israeli couples led the Supreme Court to order the government to recognize same-sex marriages performed abroad. Therefore, Even and Kama had to pursue a divorce in Israel, where marriage and divorce are under the jurisdiction of the religious courts.

After the Jewish court repeatedly ignored their requests, they made an appeal to the family court in the city of Ramat Gan against Israel’s Ministry of Interior, which claimed the court was not given enough time. The judge has since rejected the state’s arguments that only the rabbinical courts have the authority to dissolve marriage, instructing Israel’s Ministry of Interior to grant Even and Kama a divorce.

As we in the United States know very well now, the debate of same-sex marriage rights is, and will continue to be, a hot button topic. In the U.S. we have recently witnessed a historical election in which Maine, Maryland, and Washington passed legislature legalizing same sex marriage and the rights inferred with a legal marriage. And, of course, where there is marriage, there is divorce. Divorce does not discriminate and will take the same toll on same-sex couples as a man and wife. Soon enough same-sex couples will pursue an online divorce or will drag out court cases over custody or alimony. But for now this landmark case speaks volumes about where social rights are headed and the steps that have been taken in 2012.

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