The Senate voted against a bill that sought to remove religious barriers that
prevent Orthodox Jewish women from remarrying after getting divorced.
The law would have forced Orthodox Jewish men who are involved in a divorce to grant their wives “gets,” which allow their former wives to remarry as Orthodox Jews.
The bill was the subject of much controversy, as some believed it was seeking to interfere in a purely religious matter, while some believed the matter to be one of women’s rights.
Sen. Lisa A Gladden (D-Baltimore), the bill’s sponsor, said that the bill was not about religion, but “about fairness. It’s a women’s rights issue.”
Gladden said she sponsored the bill for the Orthodox Jewish women who claim they are unable to obtain divorces because their husbands won’t grant them gets.
Gladden said it was a matter of fairness and equity. “If you’re coming to the courts, you have to come with clean hands,” she said. “This is [a] women’s rights issue,” she added.
“The rule is a sexist rule” and the women “are in a bad situation,” said Sen. Jamie Raskin, D-Montgomery. “I feel for them … [but] … it is completely and wholly a religious rule.”
Under Orthodox Jewish law, a legal divorce does not end a marriage. To officially end it, the husband must give the wife a get. In some cases, a husband will refuse to grant the wife a get, which makes it impossible for her to get remarried as an Orthodox Jew.
The Bill’s Opposition
“We see this as state intrusion on a religious matter,” said Sen. Rhona Kramer, D-Montgomery, quoting from a Jewish newspaper. Kramer, who is Jewish herself, said the bill was well-intentioned, but that “we will be using a civil law to force someone to perform a religious act.”