A Sound Reason to Legalize Gay Marriage in Israel


Written by Joseph Dunsay. After earning a Masters of Science in Ecology and Evolution, Joseph Dunsay became a science writer for international audiences. Find more Jewrotica writing by Joseph here.

Rated PG-13

The Israeli Supreme Court declined to uphold same-sex marriage as a fundamental human right and sent the debate back to legislators, citing a lack of jurisdiction over marriage. The judges said that religious courts, not secular courts, have the authority to oversee marriages in Israel. While the Knesset considers same-sex marriage, there is an argument based on halacha for allowing two men to marry each other. Pikuach nefesh, the halachic principal that makes saving lives a priority, requires rabbis to consider the health benefits of marriage for two men in a romantic relationship.

Same-sex marriage has the potential to make same-sex relationships more heteronormative. Although some within the LGBT movement complaint about this possibility, one advocate for marriage equality dismissed their concerns. During the 1970’s, radical LGBT activists within the gay liberation movement argued that they should not follow the example of heterosexual men who remain committed to one partner for a lifetime. They embraced a subculture that equated gay life with promiscuity.

Even in more recent decades, men who had sex with men behaved more promiscuously than straight men did, according to a study on sexual behavior and sexual orientation. The study grouped all men who have sex with men, regardless of their sexual orientation, because some men who identify as straight will have sex with other men. It found that members of this group had more lifetime partners in both their early adulthood and their late 30’s, had more partners within the last year, were less likely to have a relationship that lasts for more than 5 years, and were more likely to have multiple sex partners in their lives compared to men who have sex only with women. All of these behaviors are risk factors for the transmission of HIV.

It seems reasonable to assume that the legalization of same-sex marriage would make it easier for same-sex couples to maintain exclusive relationships that last many years. When used properly, a ketubah is rather effective at reducing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Rabbinic literature has many examples of rabbis ruling leniently for the sake of health. It is time for Israeli rabbinic courts to officiate over same-sex marriages.

After earning a Masters of Science in Ecology and Evolution, Joseph Dunsay became a science writer for international audiences. His LGBT erotic e-book launched in the summer of 2015.