Will Moshe Soon Be Able to Marry Binyamin?

Almost before the ink was dry on the Supreme Court’s highly controversial decision concerning same-sex marriage, Israeli Minister of Defense Moshe Ya’alon tweeted his support for a similar outcome in the Holy Land. To be sure, Mr. Ya’alon’s predilection for this issue has been known for some time now, at least since 2012, and in the run-up to the most recent Knesset elections, he showed that he had not changed his mind.

This, of course, brings to mind the question: Will Israel follow the tide in Europe and the U.S.?

If Israel were Tel Aviv, there might be a different answer, but the simple answer to the question is “no," certainly not under the present government. Here's why:

In case anyone in the audience needs reminding, homosexual activity is the subject of a Biblical prohibition (cf. Leviticus XVIII,22).

The present governing coalition in Israel has only a razor-thin majority of 61 seats (so narrow a coalition has happened only once before in Israeli history, in Menachem Begin’s second term; there must be something about Likud-led governments....), and thirteen of those seats are held by the staunchly Orthodox Shas and Yahadut haTorah parties. As Prime Minister Netanyahu cannot afford the defection of a single member of Knesset, the issue will not even come up on the agenda.

If we drill down more deeply below the two non-Zionist religious parties, we find that HaBayit haYehudi, though not formally a religious party since the 2013 reshaping of its party constitution, nonetheless still contains a formidable religious element in its Tequma faction, who are also highly unlikely to vote in favor of a prohibition whose nullification, the Torah warns, will result in the land “vomiting out” (ibid., v. 28) its Jewish inhabitants. Also, Likud itself has a fairly large contingent of religiously observant members, and more who are quite deeply traditional, aside from people like Mr. Ya’alon.

This has more generally been an issue on Israel’s Leftist fringe, Meretz having been a source of perennial “marriage equality” bills for years, which are always voted down. But Ya’alon’s warm embrace of the issue, as well as the advocacy of members of parties which regard themselves as domestic “centrists,” such as Yisrael Beiteinu (only “right wing” in its foreign policy), Kulanu, and Yesh Atid, suggest that it is beginning to make inroads among the secular population. However, demographic realities and proportional representation will continue to preclude such a measure becoming law any time in the near future.