I love my gay rabbis


Plain­tiffs have demon­strat­ed by over­whelm­ing evi­dence that Propo­si­tion 8 vio­lates their due process and equal pro­tec­tion rights and that they will con­tin­ue to suf­fer these con­sti­tu­tion­al vio­la­tions until state offi­cials cease enforce­ment of Propo­si­tion 8. Cal­i­for­nia is able to issue mar­riage licens­es to same-sex cou­ples, as it has already issued 18,000 mar­riage licens­es to same-sex cou­ples and has not suf­fered any demon­strat­ed harm as a result…; more­over, Cal­i­for­nia offi­cials have cho­sen not to defend Propo­si­tion 8 in these pro­ceed­ings.

Because Propo­si­tion 8 is uncon­sti­tu­tion­al under both the Due Process and Equal Pro­tec­tion Claus­es, the court orders entry of judg­ment per­ma­nent­ly enjoin­ing its enforce­ment; pro­hibit­ing the offi­cial defen­dants from apply­ing or enforc­ing Propo­si­tion 8 and direct­ing the offi­cial defen­dants that all per­sons under their con­trol or super­vi­sion shall not apply or enforce Propo­si­tion 8.

the entire ruling is available here

the kedusha of gay & lesbian relationships

by Jane Fantel

In 1997 Deb­bie asked me to be on a pan­el at her syn­a­gogue (Tem­ple Adat Shalom, Poway, CA). The dis­cus­sion occurred on Fri­day evening after ser­vices May 24, 1997. We had pre­sumed, giv­en my past involve­ment with the Gay and Les­bian Com­mu­ni­ty (I was the first offi­cial stu­dent rab­bi at con­gre­ga­tion Beth Chay­im Chadashim in Los Ange­les and had pre­pared an issue of Davka [nev­er pub­lished] that would deal with the gen­er­al issue of Jews and Gays]), that I would have to con­vince myself of the oppos­ing posi­tion in order to present it in a com­pe­tent man­ner. A vari­a­tion of a talk she asked me to pre­pare has been avail­able here since then. I pre­sent­ed my thoughts here pub­licly as an attempt to fur­ther the dis­cus­sion. Please share with me your respons­es.

I researched the hucalum archives for the pre­vi­ous year’s dis­cus­sion of the sub­ject and found lit­tle of a con­vinc­ing nature. [I would love to post that mate­r­i­al to have it avail­able from here, but request the per­mis­sion of those who shared there before I do so.] I asked for mate­ri­als from those I knew of who had tak­en the oppos­ing point of view and received some papers, most of which dealt with the sub­ject only from the most gen­er­al of per­spec­tives, nev­er tak­ing the sub­ject by the horns (to use a dis­creet metaphor). The most straight­for­ward pre­sen­ta­tion I found was that by R. Brad Art­son in his arti­cle in S’vara which all but comes out for Kid­dushin for gay and les­bian cou­ples but which I found seri­ous­ly flawed (see with­in). The Pacif­ic South­west Coun­cil of the UAHC held a ses­sion on the sub­ject at its 1997 bien­ni­al at which (so I am told) the orga­niz­ers had dif­fi­cul­ty find­ing some­one to present the posi­tion in oppo­si­tion to rab­binic offi­ci­a­tion at same-sex com­mit­ment cer­e­monies. It is almost as though there is a fear, on the part of those opposed, to state their oppo­si­tion and explain them­selves. This has (as those who know me well) rarely been my prob­lem.

There are some broad­er cul­tur­al issues that this explo­ration has encour­aged me to con­sid­er; I have yet to gath­er them into words.

Rep­re­sent­ing “the oth­er side” that evening was fel­low HUC-JIR alum­na Jane Fan­tel. I have had her text for years, but nev­er post­ed it here… until now.

Thank you Rab­bi. I am hon­ored to be here tonight to par­tic­i­pate in this most impor­tant dia­logue on same gen­der mar­riages with­in the Reform move­ment.

I’d like to begin my remarks with more of a polit­i­cal overview of the same gen­der mar­riage sit­u­a­tion. Like many peo­ple, I had assumed at some point in my life that I would even­tu­al­ly mar­ry. When I real­ized that I was a les­bian, I aban­doned that notion and came to believe that a legal­ly sanc­tioned mar­riage to a same gen­der part­ner just wasn’t pos­si­ble. As many of you know, the cur­rent inter­est in same gen­der mar­riage in the Unit­ed States stems from a case that has been work­ing its way through the Hawaii state courts. The Hawai­ian Supreme Court had ruled that deny­ing mar­riage licens­es to same gen­der cou­ples appeared to vio­late the state con­sti­tu­tion that pro­hibits dis­crim­i­na­tion based on gen­der. Unless the state can show com­pelling rea­sons why only dif­fer­ent gen­der cou­ples should be allowed to mar­ry, the state would lose its case. Hav­ing chil­dren is not a legal require­ment of mar­riage for dif­fer­ent gen­der cou­ples, so the deci­sion whether or not to have chil­dren would be irrel­e­vant. And in any event, many unmar­ried same gen­der cou­ples, includ­ing myself are to adopt­ing or hav­ing their own bio­log­i­cal chil­dren.

In the event that same gen­der mar­riages are sanc­tioned in Hawaii, oth­er states will be faced with the ques­tion of how to deal with these Hawai­ian mar­riages. Because of nation­al con­sti­tu­tion­al pro­vi­sions, mar­riages legal­ly con­tract­ed in one state are con­sid­ered legal in all states. This is true even if one state has require­ments that were not met by the cou­ple mar­ried in a cer­e­mo­ny con­duct­ed in anoth­er state.

Intense efforts have already been aimed at pre­vent­ing the recog­ni­tion of same gen­der mar­riages in sev­er­al states, includ­ing I’m ashamed to say, Cal­i­for­nia. At the present time, the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives has held hear­ings on the “Defense of Mar­riage Act” that would define mar­riage as the union of a man and a woman.

Many same gen­der cou­ples ques­tion the need for mar­riage. How­ev­er, a num­ber of legal rights and pro­tec­tions are auto­mat­i­cal­ly giv­en to mar­ried per­sons that have not been avail­able to les­bian and gay cou­ples. For exam­ple, mar­ried peo­ple have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to be joint par­ents. Many states for­bid les­bian or gay cou­ples from adoptions…thankfully this is not yet the case in Cal­i­for­nia, although our Gov­er­nor is try­ing to put an end to sec­ond par­ent adop­tions which allows a same gen­der cou­ple to legal­ly be the par­ents of their chil­dren. Fur­ther, mar­ried cou­ples have the legal right to make med­ical deci­sions for a spouse too ill to make such deci­sions, and can obtain joint insur­ance poli­cies for health, home and auto. They are also enti­tled to auto­mat­ic inher­i­tance and oth­er death ben­e­fits such as social secu­ri­ty and pen­sion plans. In a mar­riage, many finan­cial oblig­a­tions are shift­ed from the indi­vid­u­als to the mar­ried cou­ple.

While unmar­ried part­ners can obtain some of these ben­e­fits through legal doc­u­men­ta­tion, many of these legal ben­e­fits or enti­tle­ments con­ferred by mar­riage are not avail­able or are unnec­es­sar­i­ly com­pli­cat­ed for unmar­ried per­sons.

Giv­en the legal ben­e­fits of mar­riage, I want to now focus on mar­riage in the Jew­ish con­text. As we all know, mar­riage is an inte­gral part of our Jew­ish cul­ture and a val­ued social tra­di­tion. The con­cept of mar­riage served many pur­pos­es through­out our his­to­ry. For one thing, the need to “mul­ti­ply” was impor­tant to assure the preser­va­tion of the Jew­ish peo­ple. Mar­riage also was seen as an eco­nom­ic union that brought sup­port to the fam­i­ly unit. And, mar­riage assist­ed in help­ing us deal with lone­li­ness by devel­op­ing a sense of close­ness with anoth­er per­son.

As Jews we seek to have our rela­tion­ships blessed by God and our reli­gious com­mu­ni­ty to pro­vide sup­port, val­i­da­tion, struc­ture and spir­i­tu­al nour­ish­ment in our lives. Life rit­u­als help nur­ture the spir­it as well as rela­tion­ships. Com­mit­ment cer­e­monies in the gay and les­bian com­mu­ni­ty, pro­vide a means for cou­ples to cel­e­brate their love. In sanc­ti­fy­ing our rela­tion­ships, we make a pledge not only to each oth­er, but to God, just as you do.

Allow­ing us to mar­ry in a civ­il cer­e­mo­ny per­mits free­dom of choice and access to the rights and respon­si­bil­i­ties that our polit­i­cal sys­tem allows for dif­fer­ent gen­der cou­ples. Mar­riage is one means of legit­imiz­ing these unions, and of pro­vid­ing us with the respect that is accord­ed oth­er part­nered indi­vid­u­als in our soci­ety. You may know that the Com­mis­sion on Social Action of the UAHC, the Women’s Rab­binic Net­work and the CCAR (Cen­tral Con­fer­ence of Amer­i­can Rab­bis) each have endorsed res­o­lu­tions call­ing for the legal­iza­tion of civ­il mar­riages for same gen­der cou­ples. How­ev­er, what is before the CCAR this sum­mer, is the res­o­lu­tion to allow and sup­port reli­gious mar­riages per­formed by rab­bis for same gen­der cou­ples.

The rite of mar­riage (kid­dushin) in Jew­ish tra­di­tion is the life cycle rit­u­al where the cou­ple sep­a­rate itself from all oth­ers to become a dis­tinct fam­i­ly unit in the eyes of the com­mu­ni­ty and God. The Jew­ish wed­ding cer­e­mo­ny allows for the Divine Pres­ence to knit togeth­er a couple’s hearts and souls. Wit­nessed by the com­mu­ni­ty of fam­i­ly and friends, a cou­ple binds their lives togeth­er with var­i­ous rit­u­als.

Kid­dushin, although tra­di­tion­al­ly for a man and a woman, is also a cer­e­mo­ny we use in the gay and les­bian com­mu­ni­ty to sanc­ti­fy the rela­tion­ship between same gen­der cou­ples. The holi­ness of a lov­ing rela­tion­ship, the cel­e­bra­tion of com­mit­ment, and the affir­ma­tion of fam­i­ly, are the basic ele­ments of this rit­u­al. These val­ues are impor­tant to all Jew­ish cou­ples — les­bian and gay, as well as het­ero­sex­u­al. If we can agree that gay and les­bian acts are not inher­ent­ly sin­ful, then can a gay and les­bian rela­tion­ship be sanc­ti­fied? When two Jews promise to estab­lish a Jew­ish home, pledge to live togeth­er in faith­ful­ness and integri­ty, and ask for God’s bless­ing, is this not kedusha?

Many peo­ple are pre­pared to affirm that for some Jews, a gay or les­bian rela­tion­ship is the prop­er expres­sion of the human need for inti­ma­cy and ful­fill­ment. Still, I know that many rab­bis are reluc­tant to endorse kid­dushin for same gen­der cou­ples because our rela­tion­ships appar­ent­ly dis­re­gard the his­tor­i­cal and con­tin­u­ing Jew­ish pref­er­ence of “the pro­cre­ative fam­i­ly.” They ask, “How can we grant Jew­ish sanc­ti­ty to a form of fam­i­ly which by its essence pre­cludes pro­cre­ation, a pri­ma­ry pur­pose of kid­dushin?”

Rab­bi Yoel Kahn, for­mer spir­i­tu­al leader at Con­gre­ga­tion Shaar Zahav responds in three parts. First, he says “we can­not hold gay and les­bian fam­i­lies to a high­er stan­dard than we do dif­fer­ent gen­der fam­i­lies. We do not require proof of fer­til­i­ty or even an inten­tion to become par­ents before we are will­ing to mar­ry a dif­fer­ent gen­der cou­ple. Is the same gen­der cou­ple who uses adop­tion, alter­na­tive insem­i­na­tion, or oth­er means to ful­fill the Jew­ish respon­si­bil­i­ty to par­ent so dif­fer­ent from the dif­fer­ent gen­der fam­i­ly who does the same?”

Sec­ond, he asks, “does kid­dushin require pro­cre­ation? While Judaism has always had a pref­er­ence for pro­cre­ative mar­riage, our tra­di­tion has also val­i­dat­ed the pos­si­bil­i­ty that some unions will not pro­duce chil­dren. Halacha states that a woman who does not bear chil­dren after ten years can be divorced by her hus­band. But we all know that this law is not enforced today in our move­ment.” The Jew­ish tra­di­tion has nev­er insist­ed that the sole pur­pose of sex­u­al expres­sion is pro­cre­ation, as evi­denced by numer­ous rab­binic dis­cus­sions on the mitz­vah of sex­u­al inti­ma­cy and plea­sure and, a new Mis­sion State­ment com­ing out this sum­mer by the CCAR’s ad hoc com­mit­tee on human sex­u­al­i­ty.

And final­ly, Rab­bi Kahn says, “the sit­u­a­tion of gay and les­bian Jews among us points out the need for new cat­e­gories in our think­ing. Reform Judaism is com­mit­ted to affirm­ing the respon­si­bil­i­ty of the indi­vid­ual. Can we not teach our­selves and our chil­dren that a dif­fer­ent gen­der rela­tion­ship is the prop­er form of kedusha for many, and a same gen­der rela­tion­ship may be a prop­er form for oth­ers? Can we not cre­ate a plu­ral­i­ty of expres­sions of covenan­tal respon­si­bil­i­ty and ful­fill­ment, and teach that dif­fer­ent Jews will prop­er­ly ful­fill their Jew­ish com­mu­nal and reli­gious respon­si­bil­i­ties in dif­fer­ent ways?”

I believe that encour­ag­ing com­mit­ment, sta­bil­i­ty and open­ness in same gen­der fam­i­lies does not and will not under­mine the insti­tu­tion of fam­i­ly but rather, enhance it. At present, many gay and les­bian Jews are estranged from our syn­a­gogues, our Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ties, and their fam­i­lies of ori­gin because of con­tin­ued fear, stig­ma, and oppres­sion.

In 1993, the UAHC passed a res­o­lu­tion call­ing for spousal ben­e­fits for gay and les­bian part­ners and for “legal means” of rec­og­niz­ing their rela­tion­ships. It stopped short, how­ev­er, from using the term “mar­riage.” The Recon­struc­tion­ist move­ment is, to date, the only one to sup­port reli­gious cer­e­monies of com­mit­ment for gay and les­bian cou­ples. Many Reform rab­bis per­form them, but the CCAR is still study­ing the mat­ter as part of a larg­er project to devel­op a Jew­ish sex­u­al eth­ic for our time. The final ver­sion of that report, I believe, will be pre­sent­ed this sum­mer if it hasn’t already been pre­sent­ed.

I needn’t remind you of the prej­u­dice, we as a peo­ple, have and con­tin­ue to have from oth­ers sim­ply because we are Jews. And I also needn’t remind you of what’s going on in Israel right now with respect to reli­gious plu­ral­ism. Today, in the Dias­po­ra, if a Jew by Choice is con­vert­ed by a reform, recon­truc­tion­ist or con­ser­v­a­tive rab­bi, he or she is enti­tled to become a cit­i­zen of Israel under the Law of Return but will not be con­sid­ered a Jew. And what is before the Ken­neset is that if a Jew by Choice in Israel is con­vert­ed by a Reform Rab­bi, he or she will not be con­sid­ered a Jew.

There­fore, I ask those of you who care about the “Jew­ish Fam­i­ly”, sup­port the legal­iza­tion of gay and les­bian mar­riage. There are thou­sands of gay and les­bian Jews who want to have fam­i­lies, get mar­ried and have a reli­gious cer­e­mo­ny per­formed by their rab­bis. I am one of them. If the Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty gen­uine­ly cares about fam­i­ly, it will sup­port gay peo­ple as well as straight in our attempts to estab­lish, lov­ing fam­i­lies. Thank you.

I love my gay rabbi

I ♥ my gay rab­bi

Date: 2000s
Size: 2.3
Pin Form: straight clasp
Print Method: cel­lu­loid
Text I ♥ My Gay Rab­bi

your lapel buttons

Many peo­ple have lapel but­tons. They may be attached to a favorite hat or jack­et you no longer wear, or poked into a cork-board on your wall. If you have any lay­ing around that you do not feel emo­tion­al­ly attached to, please let me know. I pre­serve these for the Jew­ish peo­ple. At some point they will all go to an appro­pri­ate muse­um. You can see all the but­tons shared to date.

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