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Jews responding to the Christian right -
Commentary and Talking Points for Shavuot Weekend
Countering the Family Values Monopoly
By Rabbi David Ellenson, President of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, February 6, 2004
In his State of the Union address, President Bush signaled his intent to make “family values” a centerpiece of the 2004 presidential campaign.
His belief that “the sanctity of the family” needs to be defended from the “threat” that gay and lesbian couples ostensibly pose to heterosexual family units is hardly surprising. After all, when asked about same-sex unions after a court decision that affirmed the constitutionality of same-sex marriage, the president commented, “We are all sinners.”
The very language the president employed then indicates that his religious views play a significant role in the public-policy position he has adopted on this matter, and the role that religious fundamentalism has played in setting the terms for this debate in the public square is unquestionably considerable. In taking the stance he did, President Bush displayed the impact that the Traditional Values Coalition and allied conservative religious groups — including Jewish ones — that have long been at the forefront of the fight against the advancement of rights and options for gays and lesbians in our society has had upon him. Continued at the website of Clergy for Fairness, www.clergyforfairness.org, which is campaigning against the Federal Marriage Amendment.
Union for Reform Judaism Advocacy Week Talking Points
The Union for Reform Judaism, which opposes the marriage amendment, encouages using "I" language, like that below, when advocating for its defeat.
As a Reform Jew, I take to heart the Jewish teaching that we are created, b’tselem Elohim, in the image of God. We must value tolerance and the acceptance of others.
There's an important difference between religious marriage and civil marriage and this amendment threatens BOTH.
This is an issue of RELIGIOUS LIBERTY:
This amendment would harm children:
The Marriage Metaphor of Shavuot
by Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak, JewsOnFirst.org, May 31, 2006
The festival of Shavuot (June 1-3, 2006) employs a metaphor for the relationship between God and the Jewish People called "marriage," symbolized by referring to the Torah as the Ketubah - a written marriage covenant. God and the Jews are symbolically married! Our definition of marriage is not covered by Congress's badly named Marriage Protection Amendment, nor are the symbolic marriages of Catholic religious orders.
Historically, religious marriages of all kinds exist with no reference to what civil authorities ordain.
In the traditional Ketubah, the families of the bride and groom would negotiate what practical arrangements were supplied to the marriage - pots, linens, trust funds, apprenticeship, etc. The religious significance was framed by the actual ceremony under the Huppah and the lived-out relationship of the marriage partners. Over time, Judaism has sought to emphasize equality and love as the religious significance of marriage.
When Jews agreed to register marriages with civil authorities in the modern world, the authority of religion and the authority of the state were separated. In the event of a divorce the financial details of divorces required the state's authorities and then religious expression. The religious meaning of marriage was the purview of Judaism but the material issues were adjudicated by the state. That is what we call the Enlightenment "deal."
At this time, the Senate's attempt to legislate "marriage" by a constitutional amendment is an imposition of a narrow and sectarian definition by right-wing Christian activists . The amendment is also an expression of power by the majority that does not respect minority views.
Americans United for the Separation of Church and State
The institutions of government and religion must be kept separate for the benefit of both. While there has traditionally been some interaction between the two in regard to marriage law, Americans United believes it is serious mistake to compound that entanglement by writing the marriage practices of one segment of the religious community into the Constitution. Click here for more
Thoughts from Leaders of the Reform Movement
Rabbi Eric Yoffie, President, Union for Reform Judaism
Rabbi David Saperstein, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Rabbi Marla Feldman, Director, Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism
Mark Pelavin, Associate Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Rabbi Harry Danziger, President, Central Conference of American Rabbis
Click here for the website of the Relgious Action Center for Reform Judaism.
Many Jewish and Christian organizations oppose the federal marriage amendment. You can see a list at www.clergyforfairness.org.