This has got to be one of the poorest attempts ever at using religion to cover bias. This week a group of Orthodox Jewish organizations released a statement in opposition to marriage equality.
May 23, 2011
On the issue of legalizing same-sex marriage, the Orthodox Jewish world speaks with one voice, loud and clear:
We oppose the redefinition of the bedrock relationship of the human family.
The Torah, which forbids homosexual activity, sanctions only the union of a man and a woman in matrimony. While we do not seek to impose our religious principles on others, we believe the institution of marriage is central to the formation of a healthy society and the raising of children. It is our sincere conviction that discarding the historical definition of marriage would be detrimental to society.
Moreover, we are deeply concerned that, should any such redefinition occur, members of traditional communities like ours will incur moral opprobrium and may risk legal sanction if they refuse to transgress their beliefs. That prospect is chilling, and should be unacceptable to all people of good will on both sides of this debate.
The integrity of marriage in its traditional form must be preserved.
AGUDATH ISRAEL OF AMERICA
CENTRAL RABBINICAL CONGRESS OF THE U.S.A. AND CANADA
NATIONAL COUNCIL OF YOUNG ISRAEL
RABBINICAL ALLIANCE OF AMERICA
RABBINICAL COUNCIL OF AMERICA
UNION OF ORTHODOX JEWISH CONGREGATIONS OF AMERICA
Despite the position of these Orthodox groups, the vast majority — over 75% — of American Jews support marriage equality and are working to include LGBT people into mainstream Jewish and American society. Even the Conservative movement’s Jewish Theological Seminary recently ordained its first openly gay rabbi.
A review of the red herrings in these Orthodox groups’ statement is below the fold. Anyone following the weak rhetoric of their radical-right Christian counterparts will see many similarities.
The Torah also sanctions the marriage of one man to many wives. The man may have concubines in addition.
If they didn’t wish to impose their religious principles on others, they wouldn’t be trying to influence the civil laws to reflect their particular religious beliefs at the expense of the beliefs of others. Most American Jews support marriage equality. In most states, pro-equality rabbis and clerics of other faiths are being denied the right to officiate at the civil marriage ceremonies of same-sex couples because anti-equality laws based on radical-right religious views are interfering with their freedom of religion.
Considering how many lesbian, bisexual and gay couples have children, if this statement were true then these groups would be supporting marriage equality. Instead, by opposing marriage equality, they’re putting children at risk by forcing families to live in legally precarious situations.
It all seems to be about “who can dish it out and who has to take it” with this group, as Rabbi Naphtali Hoff made clear in his article “Preserving the Original Moral Opprobrium“.
The 1st Amendment to the US Constitution protects the right of clerics and religious institutions to agree or refuse to marry whoever they choose. No religious person or institution has ever been forced to conduct or sanction same-sex marriages, and they never will be. It’s been 7 years since gay marriage became legal in Massachusetts, and not one radical-right religious person has been forced to marry a same-sex couple against their will, nor have they been forced to sanction such marriages.