17 June 2011

Yes to the Gay Marriage Bill in Albany

I am in favor the Gay Marriage Bill being considered in Albany.
Self-evident, I realize, for a rabbi in Park Slope but nonetheless, vitally important to say so.

In today's coverage in the Times, there is mention made of Rabbi Noson Leiter of Torah Jews for Decency, an opponent of gay marriage, who is quoted as saying, "Even ultra-liberal senators should understand that the government should have no right to impose a counter-biblical definition of marriage, family and gender."  Anytime I read a sentence with "ultra-liberal" and two "shoulds," I know we're treading in deep politically partisan waters.  Who writes this guy's material, Lee Atwater's dybbuk?

I'm a Torah Jew for Decency and I'll point out that nowhere in the Torah is there a definition of marriage.  Marriage itself is fairly romantic and even spontaneous.  Rebecca falls off her camel when she meets Isaac.  On his wedding night, Jacob slept with his sister-in-law.  Joseph strikes me as gay, to tell you the truth.  In the Talmud, the rabbis famously imagine him painting his eyebrows.  Whatever.  He was the economic genius who saved Egypt and brought his brothers together after years of rivalry.  That's Torah Decency for me.  But to be clear:  the Torah does not define marriage.  It's just not there.

It's true that the Torah says a man shouldn't lie with another man as one lies with a woman and if you think about it, that's true.  If you're going to lie with a man, do it as a man!  Know thyself! 

We have several gay couples in our synagogue, raising their children as good--no, exemplary!--Torah Decent Jews.  They are kind, intelligent, generous; they pray in Hebrew and do deeds of lovingkindness.  They visit Israel and our in the synagogue every Shabbat.  Their parents love each other in supportive, monogamous relationships.

When God made the human, the Torah teaches that both man and woman were made "in the image of God."  I often think of that text when religious leaders decry the immorality of gay and lesbian love.  Another Torah text I reference is "Love your neighbor as yourself."  Rabbi Akiva said that was the most important principle of all.

From one Torah Decent Jew to another--focus on the love and everything should work out alright.

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