MARRIAGE DIGEST: Israel recognizes first 'gay marriage'; Hawaii legislators may pass civil unions bill; ...

JERUSALEM (BP)--Israel registered its first "gay marriage" Jan. 29, two months after the nation's highest court issued a landmark ruling for homosexual couples.

Binyamin and Avi Rose, two homosexual men from Israel, became the first couple to have their marriage license recognized, the Jerusalem Post reported. They "married" in Canada last June.

The November decision by the Israeli Supreme Court ordered the country to recognize "gay marriages" from other countries, such as Canada and Spain. Although the ruling didn't allow same-sex couples to get "married" within Israel's borders, it nonetheless put the country at odds with other nations such as the United States and Great Britain, neither of which recognizes foreign "gay marriages." The U.S. government doesn't even recognize "gay marriages" from the state of Massachusetts, where it is legal.

"It was wonderful to get married at the city hall in Toronto, but it was far more important for the state of Israel to recognize us as a couple," Avi told the Jerusalem Post.

His father is a rabbi in the United States and supports "gay marriage."

"We wanted the government of Israel to recognize that we are a couple," Avi told the paper. "It was no more of a statement than [coming from] a 'regular' couple, but we are both committed Zionists and are hopeful that our union will bring more progress on this issue."

Despite Israel's conservative image, homosexual activists there have won significant legal and political battles in recent years. 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.

Canada is a popular destination for homosexual couples because its marriage law doesn't require residency.

The 6-1 decision by Israel's highest court sparked outrage by some politicians.

"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."

Some legislators support passage of a bill that would prohibit the recognition of "gay marriage." Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, though, opposes the bill.

HAWAII CONSIDERS CIVIL UNIONS -- Democrats in Hawaii's legislature are hoping to pass a bill this session that would legalize same-sex civil unions, putting the state alongside Connecticut, New Jersey and Vermont. Democrats control both chambers. Civil unions grant same-sex couples the legal benefits of marriage.

"Committed couples, regardless of their sexual preference or orientation, should have the same rights. That's the bottom line -- we should treat people equally," state Senate Majority Leader Gary Hooser said, according to AP. "There's broad support among Democratic party members."

Republican Gov. Linda Lingle hasn't taken a position on the bill, AP said.

More than a decade ago Hawaii's top court appeared to be on the verge of legalizing "gay marriage," but citizens passed a constitutional marriage amendment. That amendment gave legislators the authority to ban "gay marriage," something they did.

Conservatives call civil unions "marriage by another name" and say they're another step toward the decline of the family.

GILL OPENS WASHINGTON OFFICE -- The Colorado-based Gill Action Fund, one of the top donators to homosexual activist causes nationwide, is opening an office in Washington, D.C., with its own political team.

Although some conservatives may not be familiar with the organization, leaders on both sides of the "gay marriage" issue no doubt are. The Gill Action Fund gave $2.5 million last year in Colorado in a failed effort to pass Referendum I, which would have granted same-sex couples many of the legal benefits of marriage. It also gave approximately $300,000 to defeat Colorado's marriage amendment, which passed.

The organization was founded by Tim Gill, who made millions by founding Quark Inc., which produces layout software used by many newspaper and magazine companies. Gill lives in Denver with his male partner.

"Gill Action represents a new opportunity at a critical time in history to support local, state and national organizations and others working towards full equality," Gill Action Executive Director Patrick Guerriero said in a statement. Guerriero formerly worked with Log Cabin Republicans. "The Gill Action team looks forward to working with a broad base of people from diverse backgrounds to achieve equal rights through the political process."

Robin Brand, the former senior vice president of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund and Leadership Institute, will be the organization's chief operating officer. Bill Smith, a political consultant, will be its national political director.

CONN. GOV. OPPOSES 'GAY MARRIAGE' -- Connecticut Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell signed a same-sex civil unions bill two years ago, but she said Jan. 26 she'd veto a "gay marriage" bill if it passed the state legislature. Such a bill likely will be introduced this session.

"I said ... when I signed the civil union bill that I believed it covered the concerns that had been raised. And I believe that that bill was the appropriate way to go and I still do," Rell said, according to the Associated Press. "And the answer is yes, I would veto a bill that provides for same-sex marriage."

DOMA PASSES WYO. SENATE -- The Wyoming Senate Jan. 31 passed a defense of marriage act by a vote of 21-8 that would prohibit recognition of out-of-state "gay marriages," AP reported. The bill now goes to the House. More than 40 states already have such a law.


For more information about the national debate over "gay marriage," visit http://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage

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