It’s not quite what you might think. Israel is going to allow civil marriages, which are different than the civil unions we have in California.
The Civil Union Law, which received final parliamentary approval this week, applies only to couples who have no legal affiliation with an organized religion.
Until now, all Israeli marriages had to be performed as religious unions in order to be recognized by the state. Jews, Muslims, Christians and others wishing to marry first had to register with their respective religious authorities.
There has never been a provision for religiously unaffiliated couples, mixed-faith couples or Jews wishing to be married by a non-Orthodox rabbi.
While hundreds of couples without a religion are expected to take advantage of the new law, it does not provide a solution for intermarriage or couples where one partner has an identifiable religion and the other does not.
There are religious leaders in Israel who will perform marriages for such couples, but the marriages are not recognized by the state.