August 4, 2010
Calif. Rabbis Respond to Prop. 8 Ruling
(Page 3 - Previous Page)
Rabbi Laura Geller
Temple Emanuel, Beverly Hills
The decision to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry is not only a constitutional issue; it is a Jewish issue as well. While our Biblical text in Leviticus seems, at first glance, to be in conflict over homosexuality, it is clear that what the Bible is describing has absolutely nothing to do with committed homosexual or lesbian relations. In other words, the Torah is not talking about gay and lesbian marriage.
In my view, the values of Judaism support gay marriage. First, the creation story in Genesis makes it very clear: “It is not good for a person to be alone; I will make a partner for him.” Note: a person, not just a heterosexual person. All persons, all human beings, deserve to have loving partners. Second, the central value of Jewish tradition is that every human being is created in God’s image. Therefore every human being deserves dignity and respect, and it is up to us to be partners with God to create a world in which every human being is treated with respect and dignity. Freedom to marry the one you love is essential to respect and dignity. And third, the value of families, of nurturing the next generation, is among the most important of all Jewish values.
I officiate at same-sex marriages because I believe in marriage. I believe that the benefits that married couples receive support families and help families raise children together. Those benefits (including joint insurance policies for a home, inheritance rights, Social Security and Medicare benefits, bereavement-leave, being next-of-kin for hospital visits and medical decisions) are important to create the comfort and security that people need in long-term loving relationships.
The way our tradition thinks about homosexuality has changed since Biblical times. But some things never change. God is present when two people commit their lives to each other and become one family.
Rabbi Stewart L. Vogel
Temple Aliyah, Woodland Hills
The ability for gays and lesbians to have their committed relationships acknowledged by law with all of the benefits and requirements therein is a Jewish value. While some Jewish religious traditions might continue to struggle with the question of homosexuality, the question of the legal rights of gays and lesbians is an entirely different manner. The Torah teaches us that “there shall be one law” for everyone (Lev. 24:20) and in regard to legal and religious and civil law the rabbis learned to distinguish between them. The violators of religious law were not punished by human courts while their civil rights were still guaranteed. This is the approach that we must take towards the issue of same-sex marriages- “there shall be one law.”