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Uzi Even, an Israeli chemistry professor emeritus at Tel Aviv University and a former politician who was the first openly gay serving member of the Knesset (as a member of Meretz), was born in Haifa on this date in 1940. In 2004, Uzi married his partner Amit Kama in Canada — the only country that allowed gay marriage at the time — and five years later, Israel’s Family Court ruled that they could adopt their adult foster son, Yossi Even-Kama, the first legal gay adoption in the country. In 2013, Even and Kama divorced — again under the jurisdiction of the Family Court, in the first same-sex divorce in the country, which implied a path by which heterosexual couples might bypass Israel’s religious establishment in matters of marriage and divorce. Evan also transformed the Israeli Defense Forces when he revealed, in 1993, that he had been driven from the military and denied a security clearance when it was discovered that he was gay. His testimony led Israel to allow gay men and women to serve in the army in any position. Two years later, in 1995, Even successfully sued Tel Aviv University for spousal rights for his partner.
“[T]he court may be seen as awarding the right of all couples, gay or straight, to dissolve their marriage in a civil court. That would be dramatic development indeed.... As Harel notes, tolerance of the gay rights movement in Israel was possible ‘because the legal changes were perceived as insignificant, given the deeply conservative nature of the Israeli society. Yet, the very success of the gay legal revolution to bring forward issues of sexuality the political discourse undermined the conditions that facilitated its success.’” —Dr. Amir Paz-Fuchs