January 13, 2012
Winnipeg to host first Conservative gay ceremony in Canada
A Winnipeg synagogue is about to become the first Conservative shul in Canada to host a same-sex wedding ceremony.
Shaarey Zedek Synagogue will be the scene on Jan. 21 for the “renewal” of marriage vows between two men wedded in a civil service in Vancouver in 2004, the Winnipeg Jewis Post and News reported.
Canada did not legalize same-sex marriage until 2005.
The service will be held under a chuppah and conducted by Rabbi Larry Pinsker.
The ceremony is the culmination of a three-year process intended to welcome gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered (GLBT) people into the congregation.
The first stage, said Ian Staniloff, the synagogue’s executive director, was to allow same-sex couples to buy joint burial plots in 2009. The second was to welcome them as members.
While the Conservative movement’s Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, in Dec. 2006, approved extending blessings to same-sex unions in commitment ceremonies, Staniloff noted that same-sex couples in the congregation were not satisfied with that. They want their unions to be sanctified.
“The Shaarey Zedek has been talking the talk,” one of the men, 67-year-old Arthur Blankstein, told the paper. “Now it is time for the congregation to walk the walk.”