August 4, 2010
Calif. Rabbis Respond to Prop. 8 Ruling
Rabbi Denise L. Eger
Congregation Kol Ami
Today’s historic ruling overturning Proposition 8 by federal court judge, Vaughn Walker is a victory for equality in this country. It is an affirmation of the US Constitution’s pledge to protect a minority from the majority. His eloquent ruling made clear that “Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite sex couples are superior to same-sex couples.” As Jews we understand that all are created in B’tzelem Elohim in God’s image. For those who consider themselves traditional Jews who oppose marriage for same gender couples-that same U.S. Constitution guarantees that they do not have to officiate at such weddings. But my religious Jewish values teach that gay men and lesbians ought to be able to make a Jewish family and have that family legally recognized and protected with the same rights, privileges and responsibilities.
Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis
Valley Beth Shalom
I would be honored to officiate at a wedding where two Jewish human beings seek to deepen their marital relationship with the blessings and traditions of our people. The right to marry is a right that expresses the comprehensiveness of our democratic state. The decision of Judge Walker deserves the applause of the secular and religious communities. Not to offer any couple the collective wisdom of our biblical and rabbinic sages runs counter to Jewish compassion and justice.
Rabbi Lisa Edwards
Beth Chayim Chadashim (BCC)
Two steps forward, one step back is still one step forward. Today’s ruling is one BIG step forward as Federal Judge Vaughn Walker ruled on what so many American Jews have understood for years already:
The United States constitution was created to give and protect rights, not take them away.
The 44 gay and lesbian couples at whose weddings I officiated in 2008, as well as my wife and I, know on a daily basis what Judge Walker ruled today: the civil right to marry belongs to everyone.
Fairness, dignity, equality – today we move one step closer, though the long walk continues, toward achieving what we long for – the opportunity to create families, recognized and appreciated by the society in which we live.
Rabbi Daniel Korobkin
An Orthodox rabbi in Los Angeles
The Orthodox Jewish community is quite diverse and so it’s impossible for one person to represent the full spectrum of views contained therein. I do, however, think it’s fair to say that most Orthodox Jews believe, as do Jews in general, that homosexuals deserve our respect, sensitivity, and friendship. Those who are seeking to lead a meaningful Jewish lifestyle and live within the confines of their respective communities need to be embraced and made to feel that there is a place for them at our tables and in our synagogues.
At the same time, most Orthodox Jews believe that having governments endorse gay unions with the imprimatur of “marriage” is a mistake. It distorts the Torah’s definition of marriage, a definition which has been the standard for every Jewish, Christian, and Muslim society for centuries, and thus distances our present society even further from its Judeo-Christian roots. It is also bad for civilization as a whole from a sociological standpoint, irrespective of that society’s commitment to biblical values. I strongly disagree with Judge Walker’s argument that “gender no longer forms an essential part of marriage,” which formed, in part, the basis for his ruling. Gender not only remains an essential component of marriage; it is vital to marriage, and an even more vital component of child-rearing, the natural by-product of most marriages.
The latest ruling by a federal judge that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional is therefore disappointing, if not surprising. My understanding is that this is just one step in a long legal process that is still unfolding. The judge’s ruling today has no bearing on the fact that many Orthodox Jews support Prop 8. I also need to underscore that, contrary to the judge’s interpretation of the motives of Prop 8 supporters, my support is not at all motivated by malice or hatred of homosexuals, but rather what I perceive is in the best interests of our community and society as a whole. Despite my opposition to gay marriage, I remain steadfastly committed to respecting and upholding the religious rights and privileges of individual homosexuals within my community.
Rabbi Don Goor
Temple Judea in Tarzana and West Hills
In Shofetim, our Torah portion next Shabbat, we’re taught that as Jews we must actively pursue justice. Yesterday’s court decision is a brave step toward achieving justice for a population that so clearly faces discrimination. As Jews we are commanded to know the heart of the stranger, the widow, the orphan. By allowing Gays and Lesbians the right to marry, the court follows in the Jewish tradition of understanding the heart of those without power in society by recognizing their pain and granting them rights. As someone who’s marriage is not been recognized by this state, I am overjoyed that justice has been done - justice that directly effects my life.
Rabbi Ron Stern
Stephen S. Wise Temple
The ruling yesterday is an important step forward making the right to marry an essential right for all Americans regardless of their sexual orientation. Unfortunately, the complexities of our legal system and the lingering voices of opposition still stand in the way of achieving true equality. As a rabbi in the Reform Movement of Judaism, I have long recognized that our tradition must adapt itself to our changing understandings of human sexuality and have proudly officiated at and participated in Gay and Lesbian weddings, several during the brief time that Gay marriage was legal in California. I eagerly await the day when the country catches up with progressive Judaism and extends the legality of marriage to Gay and Lesbian couples so that the status of their relationships receive equal standing in the law, just as they are blessed by the sanctity of God’s presence in our Jewish tradition.