Israeli court grants lesbian couple adoption rights

jerusalem (ap) | Israel’s Supreme Court ruled this week that two lesbian women can adopt each other’s children in an unprecedented case for the Jewish state.

But the judges in their 7-2 decision cautioned against viewing the case as precedent, saying their considerations dealt specifically with this couple and the judges’ view of what was the best for these children.

The case dealt with a lesbian couple living together for 15 years with three boys conceived from sperm donated anonymously to a bank. Two lower courts had thrown out the women’s request to adopt each other’s children.

“The greatest difficulty for our children is the society in which they live,” said Tali Yarus-Khakak, one of the mothers. “This lets my son wake up tomorrow morning proud of his family.”

Same-sex couples are often ostracized by Israel’s conservative society, whose values are often based on Jewish tradition.

Yarus-Khakak, the mother of two of the boys, told Israel Radio the decision would grant her and her partner greater legal rights with each other’s children. In the past, even clerks at the Interior Ministry had not permitted Yarus-Khakak to renew the passport of her partner’s son, she said.

Yarus-Khakak acknowledged that the judges had warned against assuming the ruling was precedent-setting, but said her family could serve as an example for many other same-sex couples in Israel.

The court decision came just a month after Israel’s attorney general granted legal recognition to homosexual couples for tax, real estate and other financial purposes. The decision prompted an outcry from some Orthodox Jews, who considered it sacrilegious.

Israel’s ruling also occurred at the same time that the U.S. Supreme Court steered clear of a dispute over gay adoptions, energizing conservatives who want other states to copy Florida's one-of-a-kind ban on gays adopting children.

In refusing to review the law, justices averted a second showdown over gay rights in two years. The court barred states in 2003 from criminalizing gay sex, a decision that brought strong criticism from conservative and religious groups.