Home Population Population Authority advises court it won’t register Utah marriages

Population Authority advises court it won’t register Utah marriages


The Home Department’s Population and Immigration Authority officially informed the Lod District Court on Tuesday that it will not be recording civil marriages performed in an online ceremony in Utah for Israeli couples.

The authority did not explain its position, however, and the court asked it to provide such an explanation by July 7, while apparently ignoring its request to dismiss the petition.

Weddings in Utah have become an explosive political issue since for all intents and purposes they make civil marriage available in Israel. This is something the religious parties have fiercely resisted. Secular and liberal parties, on the other hand, have advanced it, including those in the current coalition.
Home Secretary Ayelet Shaked, whose department is responsible for the Population and Immigration Authority, has yet to take a public position on Utah marriages. She expressed her political and personal opposition to civil marriage in Israel.

Asked about her position on the issue on Wednesday, a spokeswoman for Shaked said the issue “had not yet reached her table.”

Some 500 Israeli couples have married so far through Utah’s online civil marriages, as civil marriage is not available in Israel and the COVID-19 pandemic has made overseas travel for many. such almost impossible ceremonies.

In a one-line response to the court’s request regarding the Authority’s legal rationale behind its decision not to register Utah marriages, he wrote that he had denied the request of a couple who s ‘was married in this way and had requested that the request be dismissed.

The Authority attached the couple in question to the letter as part of its response to court in which it said the couple did not have a representative in Utah when the marriage was performed.

He also said that “the majority of the elements of the marriage… relate to actions carried out in Israel” and that “most of the affiliations of this marriage ceremony do not relate to the state where the certificate was issued”.

The Authority stated that the marriage was performed primarily in Israel and that, since there is no provision for civil marriage in Israel, the marriage could not be registered with the Population Authority. immigration.

In response to the submission, lawyer Vlad Finkelshtein rejected the claim that the marriage was celebrated in Israel.

Speaking to the Jerusalem Post, he said every aspect of the marriage was performed in Utah, the registrar’s office was in Utah, and the computer and IP address at from which the ceremony was broadcast were in Utah.

He also noted that the issue raised by the Population and Immigration Authority that the requesting couple did not have a representative in Utah at the time of the marriage was relevant to proxy marriage cases, in which couples give to d ‘others a power of attorney to marry abroad. on their behalf, which he said was not fundamentally different from online weddings.

Finkelshtein further pointed out in court that last week a couple who got married through the Utah Marriage Service successfully registered their marriage with the Kfar Saba branch of the Population Authority and immigration.

And he noted that the Authority had not contacted relevant officials in Utah to ask for details and the nature of the service they provide.

THE LAWYER also described the Authority’s one-sentence response to the court and its repeated request to dismiss the petition as contempt of court.

“My only conclusion from the Authority’s failure to respond appropriately is that it wants to lose this case,” Finkelshtein said.

“They want a decision ordering the Population and Immigration Authority to register these marriages because the Authority does not want to be the one to authorize them and would open up serious political problems,” he continued. .

“The Ministry of the Interior does not want it, the minister does not want it, no [one] he wants it. And no interior minister in the history of the country has ever wanted to register civil marriages, same-sex marriages, or anything else.

The director of the organization for religious pluralism Hiddush, Rabbi Uri Regev, said the People’s Authority’s response to the petition represented “a capitulation” to the position of the former interior minister and leader of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, Arye Deri, who ordered a freeze on marriage registration in Utah. in January.

Shaked did not reverse this freeze.

“The Population Authority and the State Prosecutor’s Office ignore over sixty years of consistent Supreme Court decisions, which have thrown them down every step of the way when they tried to thwart the registration of couples. who married civilly abroad, because Israel has entrusted the keys to the exercise of the civil right to marry to religious institutions, and thus denies the right to marry to hundreds of thousands of citizens, and many others who do not wish to marry in a religious marriage at the Chief Rabbinate, ”said Regev.

The Hiddush director also rejected the state’s attempt to compare proxy marriages and Utah’s online marriage service, adding that he hoped “the new minister and attorney general will think again about this.” they are ready to support such ridiculous claims, and [instead] avoid unnecessary litigation.

Hiddush himself has filed a petition with the Jerusalem District Court on behalf of several other couples who got married through the Utah online service, although the court has yet to issue a ruling requiring that the State responds to the request.

Utah’s online civil marriage controversy developed last year during the COVID-19 crisis, in which some of the thousands of couples who marry each year in civil marriage ceremonies at the foreigners have not been able to marry due to the global pandemic and the restrictions on international travel this has caused.

In 2020, the state of Utah began offering civil marriage online, and several Israeli couples decided to use this service to allow them to get married.

About 20 couples who got married in this way presented all of their documents to their local branch of the Population and Immigration Authority and had their marriages successfully registered by the authority.

When officials from other branches questioned the documents, an order finally fell from then Home Secretary and Shas leader Arye Deri – who opposes civil marriage – to freeze the treatment of registration of marriages.

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