CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - On Wednesday, the Knesset (Israeli parliament) will vote on a bill legalizing civil marriages in the Jewish state.
Sponsored by Yisrael Beitenu, the legislation would allow Israeli couples to be legally married outside the purview of the ultra-Orthodox Chief Rabbinate.
"The bill allows interested couples to be registered as a married couple with all the implications, and be eligible for all the rights and duties of a married man," Member of Knesset (MK) David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu) said.
"This will make life easier for many citizens forced to travel abroad to get married in a non-religious manner instead of doing it here in an organized way," he said.
"It's true that similar bills submitted in the past were not approved, but I believe the time has come for the Knesset to recognize and approve the required change," he said.
Rotem, himself a religious Jew, said nonreligious Israelis should enjoy the same rights and privileges under the law.
"I respect those who want to lead a different lifestyle and do not wish to impose anything on them," he said.
"Although the government opposes the bill, I believe there is a good chance it will pass," said Rotem.
Not surprisingly, the ultra-Orthodox Shas party opposes a bill allowing civil marriage in Israel.
"I would like to remind all kinds of people in the coalition that the Yisrael Beiteinu faction is an opposition faction," said Shas faction chairman MK Yacov Margi.
"Therefore this bill should be dropped, particularly when we are talking about a bill that paints the State's image in dark colors," he said.
Yisrael Beitenu left the coalition in mid-January over Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on "core issues."
Source: YNet news service