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updated: 8/12/2014 11:01 AM

Israel OK's gay Jews to immigrate with spouses

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Associated Press

JERUSALEM -- Israel says it will now allow Jews to immigrate to Israel with their non-Jewish same-sex spouses.

In a directive publicized Tuesday, Israeli Interior Minister Gideon Saar told immigration authorities not to differentiate between married gay and straight couples.

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Israeli law grants citizenship to Jews and close non-Jewish relatives who move to Israel. In a few cases in recent years, Israel only naturalized non-Jewish same-sex spouses of Jews following threats of Supreme Court petitions, says Israeli immigration attorney Nicole Maor.

Israel does not permit gays to marry in the country, but recognizes same-sex marriages if they were performed legally abroad. It is generally tolerant toward gays.

Gays serve openly in Israel's military and parliament, and Israel's Supreme Court grants gays family rights including inheritance and survivors' benefits.

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