03/24/2013 09:39 am ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

For Israeli Gays, It's Not About The Ring

A refugee lawyer, a transgender specialist, and six other people sit in a circle in an empty classroom on the second floor of Tel Aviv’s Gay Center. They are here for the inauguration of Israel’s first-ever LGBT legal clinic. The evening’s keynote speaker is Frederick Hertz, an American legal expert who specializes in gay marriage. He describes a recent case he handled, in which a gay couple, one of them transgender, got married in Las Vegas as a man and a woman. Then they moved to California and wanted their respective healthcare benefits. “So the question,” Hertz says, “was how to register that same-sex couple when they had been married as an opposite-sex couple.”

The crowd stares blankly, some playing with their telephones. One attendee, wearing skinny jeans and Converse sneakers, breaks the collective yawn by quoting a New Yorker cartoon, republished in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, to convey how Israelis feel about the American debate over gay marriage: “Gays and lesbians getting married — haven’t they suffered enough?”

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