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November 30, 2015 / 18 Kislev, 5776
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Bennett, Lapid, Play to Constituents on Gay Bill

Lapid's insistence on legislation rather than a unilateral fix by his office has actually been hurting gays.
Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) and Naftali Bennett (Bayit Yehudi) in an affectionate embrace.

Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) and Naftali Bennett (Bayit Yehudi) in an affectionate embrace.
Photo Credit: Miriam Alster/FLASH90

Yesh Atid (Lapid) and Bayit Yehudi (Bennett) reached a compromise on the same-sex tax benefits bill, authored by MK Adi Kol (Yesh Atid) that is to be presented to the Knesset on Wednesday for an initial vote.

Currently, the law provides for larger child tax benefits to mothers over fathers, putting male gay couples at a disadvantage, and, apparently granting female gay couples an added advantage over traditional families.

Bayit Yehudi threatened to veto the bill, which, by definition, recognizes gay marriage as valid, since it breaks with the current coalition agreement that no issues affecting Israel’s religious quo can be introduced without Bayit Yehudi’s consent.

The compromise agreement allows the vote on the bill in the government to go ahead today with the original language, but with a stipulation that, eventually, the bill will be set aside after altering the final wording so it won’t reference gay parents explicitly. Instead of sending the bill’s final version to the Knesset, the Finance Minister will be authorized to change the benefits regulations, so his office can provide the same tax benefits to gay couples as it does normal families.

The compromise gives both parties boasting rights with their constituents: Lapid’s party gets to say they introduced for a Knesset vote a bill recognizing the legality of same-sex marriages, even if the move will not result in actual legislation. Bennett’s party gets to say they torpedoed the legislation that recognizes same-sex marriages, while helping to improve the conditions of same-sex partners.

The fact is that the Finance Minister could change the regulations unilaterally, without resorting to special legislation. If anything, MK Kol’s insistence that the change in state financial support be made only after the Knesset recognized same-sex marriages has been hurting the very people she claimed she wanted to help. Rather than receiving the higher funds they obviously need, male same-sex couples have had to wait until the vote today.

Had the bill been sent to the Knesset, it would have had to undergo three rounds of voting on either end of a committee discussion and recommendations, before beneficiaries saw the cash.

Also, the Kol proposed bill would have ended up hurting 2-mother families, whose income from state support would have be reduced, to match everybody else’s.

About the Author: Tibbi Singer is a veteran contributor to publications such as Israel Shelanu and the US supplement of Yedioth, and Jewish Business News.

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