The Volokh Conspiracy

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Religion and the Law

Zooming Zion: Israeli S. Ct. Holds That Remote Utah Marriages Are Valid in Israel


From Times of Israel (Jeremy Sharon):

The Supreme Court has ruled that the Interior Ministry is obligated to register as married couples who wed in online civil ceremonies through the American state of Utah ….

The decision means that couples who cannot marry in Israel through the Chief Rabbinate, or do not wish to do so, are now legally able to get married without physically leaving the country. Israel has no civil marriage mechanism due to the objection of religious political parties, but recognizes civil unions formed abroad….

In its decision issued on Tuesday, the High Court ruled that the clerks of the Population and Immigration Authority were not legally authorized to challenge the validity of the Utah marriages and refuse to register them….

And from Jerusalem Post (Zvika Klein), more on the motivation for foreign marriages (which Israeli law has long recognized):

In Israel, marriage is only allowed in accordance with religious law. According to estimates, about 700,000 people cannot marry in Israel, among them about half a million immigrants who are considered to have no religion, same-sex couples, Reform and Conservative converts, and couples who are invalid according to Halacha.

The online option of course makes such foreign marriages much easier and much less expensive than traveling abroad.

Thanks to Prof. Howard Friedman (Religion Clause) for the pointer.