August 5, 2010
From the Sidelines, Cheering the Blocking of Prop 8
Just 48 hours ago, I posted a few thoughts about the recently-released Orthodox “Statement of Principles on the Place of Jews with a Homosexual Orientation in Our Community.” (Below, I have pasted that post’s central idea, as well as the link for the full text of the “Statement’”.) With yesterday’s court decision blocking Prop 8, I will append a thought about Orthodoxy and gay marriage.
Orthodox Judaism can never endorse or support gay marriage. Not only because there is a verse in the Torah which prohibits homosexual sex, but also because halacha has no category of marriage that involves the union of two people who are severely prohibited from engaging in a sexual relationship with one another. This is how central sexuality is to Halacha’s concept of the marital relationship.
Nonetheless, I was not a Prop 8 supporter back in November, and am relieved that it is headed toward being overturned. Jews as a group, and Orthodox Jews in particular continue to benefit from our country’s commitment to never allow any one group to impose its religious conceptions or laws upon anyone else. But Prop 8 recklessly ignores this commitment. The underlying flaw in the entire approach taken by Prop 8 proponents is their unwillingness to recognize that the term “marriage” is presently a civil legal term, and therefore must be protected from any religious group’s effort to superimpose a religious connotation upon it.
The simple and correct way to resolve the heated and explosive debate around gay marriage is to remove “marriage” from the purview of government altogether. Heterosexual and homosexual couples can be granted the identical set of legal rights and privileges, consistent with our commitments to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And “marriage” would be left to the realm of religion, where it was born, where it truly belongs, and where each individual religious faith can make decisions for itself as to what it deems permissible or prohibited.
From the earlier post: