536764901001599640360noIsrael: Israel’s Justice Minister Tzipi Livni has presided over a same-sex civil marriage even though Israeli law does not yet recognize marriages between same-sex couples.

Livni arrived the couple June 2 night at an event hall in Jaffa after the partners requested she participate in the ceremony and give them her blessing, reports israelandstuff.com.

The justice minister even spoke at the event, which was conducted in a Jewish fashion even though the ceremony was not conducted by an ordained rabbi.

“I am not here as justice minister,” Livni said, “sadly, I do not have the official legal authority to bind Guy and Tzach in a union recognized by the State of Israel – the county of their birth, for which they served in the army, and in which they want to live their lives together.”

Livni lamented the legal situation in which gay couples’ civil marriages are not recognized by the State, despite the fact that those conducted by heterosexual couples are.

“I cannot promise that after this ceremony is done you will receive the full rights enjoyed by married couples in this country. But I have come here on the authority of my moral position, and to say that the time has come that the State accept any couple who has chosen to tie their fate together as a couple.”

During the ceremony, Livni invited the grooms’ mothers to say a few words, and then instructed the partners to exchange rings.

To conclude the ceremony, Livni orchestrated the traditional breaking of the glass under the wedding hupa (canopy), this time a joint-effort by both grooms.

Livni praised the couple, saying that “I was happy to learn that Tzach works for the Foreign Ministry and as part of his work he will represent Israel with Guy by his side, showing the world Israel’s true face.”

Livni also claimed that the ceremony was not incongruent with Jewish values. “We have true respect for this tradition, as we see and understand it, an open Judaism, which accepts people and respects them as those made in the image of God.”

Livni’s participation in the event is likely to inspire criticism among certain members of the government and Knesset.

Nonetheless she  spoke about the state of legislation regarding same-sex marriages, as well as the changes needed.

“In my opinion the State is not the authority of love… no power in the world can veto love and stand before the will of a couple who has chosen to share their lives with one another,” Livni said.

Different initiatives to recognize same-sex marriage are currently stuck in the legislative process. One is that it does not change the legal definition of marriage, but only allow same-sex couples to enjoy the same rights as heterosexual couples through different clauses in the law.

Source: israelandstuff.com