Same-sex marriage around the world

Israel will recognize the marriages of same-sex couples wedded in Massachusetts -- but will Massachusetts?

Published November 22, 2006 2:15PM (EST)

With pundits still snarking about Jews and Muslims coming together in mutual intolerance of gays and lesbians, Israel went ahead and recognized same-sex marriage on Thursday. In a six-to-one decision, Israel's High Court of Justice (equivalent to the U.S. Supreme Court) ruled that five gay couples wedded outside the country can be registered as married couples in Israel, Haaretz reports. The court held that there should be no "gay exception to the standard rule of law that a marriage valid where celebrated should be honored elsewhere." The decision is especially momentous coming at the heels of Israel's canceled gay pride parade, which faced some of the nastiest vitriol this side of James Dobson. Though the state of Israel itself still won't allow same-sex marriages, it will now recognize couples who were married in places where state-sanctioned same-sex ceremonies are performed, like South Africa, Canada and Massachusetts.

And speaking of Massachusetts, the only state in the Union yet to legalize gay marriage, tensions are high between Republican Gov. Mitt Romney and the state's legislators, who recessed before voting on a same-sex-marriage bill, essentially killing it. According to the New York Times, more than 8,000 same-sex couples have married since the state Supreme Court deemed such marriages legal in 2003. Romney, who is against same-sex marriage, announced to supporters that if the lawmakers do not vote on the issue on Jan. 2 (the final day of the legislative session), he will request that the secretary of state put the question on the ballot for a statewide referendum.

So far 170,000 people have signed a petition in support of Romney's ballot question, which would define marriage as being between a man and a woman. Romney has characterized the legislators' nonvoting as "tyranny" and "usurp[ing] the Constitution," but Mark Solomon, the director of Mass Equality, a group that supports same-sex marriage, argues, "one of the tenets of the Constitution is that you do not put the rights of a minority up for a popularity contest." Romney is considering a presidential bid in 2008, so one wonders whether this whole to-do is just an appeal to a larger conservative base historically skeptical of East Coast politicians.

This post has been corrected since it was originally published.

By Sarah Goldstein

Sarah Goldstein is an editorial fellow at Salon.

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