Is There a Way to Deal with Gay Rights?

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44 Responses

  1. Reb Yid says:

    Of course, at one time in the not so distant past, many other social commentators would have harped on “the weird efforts to claim for [Judaism] the status of a proud, noble and promising way of life.”

  2. L. Oberstein says:

    You are setting yourself up for the usual volley of criticism for even thinking that we have to find a way to deal with gay rights. Back a generation ago when the Baltimore Jewish Council wanted to take a stand in favor of Gay Rights legislation, Rabbi herman N. Neuberger said that if they did so, he would have to resign. This alone kept them from taking a position. His moral authority was such that they respected his integrity. I do not know if such a threat would mean much nowadays . The prevelant attitude is that this is a civil rights issue on par with discrimination against Jews or blacks.This is believed from the top on down in civil society. gay relationships on TV , gay sports figures “coming out”, etc. is the norm. Anyone who dares voice a differing opinion is so politically incorrect as to deserve removal from his or her position. I doubt if a college professor could say that being gay is not perfectly normal and OK. My Republican friends like to paint this as a “liberal i.e. Democratic” idea,but it is far more pervasive than they realize. Once this has been defined as a human rights issue , opposition is melting away. Regardless of what those over 40 may say, those who are younger are almost all for gay rights. It isn’t even a question.So, three it is.Thaks for raising a sensitive topic, but it is only sensitive because this is an orthodox blog.

  3. kalman says:

    Homosexuality is far less of a choice than intermarriage. Many gays and lesbians struggle with their sexual orientation, and only accept it reluctantly. If we can find it in ourselves to treat intermarried Jews and their families with respect—despite the fact that these people easily could have chosen to marry within their faith—then kal v’chomer we should be able to do the same with gays and lesbians.

    We also are able to interact respectfully with Christians, Muslims, Hindus, atheists, etc despite our deep theological differences with them. What’s the difference here?

    Once we accept that we live in a free country where not everyone is like us, and everyone (including Orthodox Jews!) has the right to be different and live our lives as we see fit, then treating gays and lesbians with dignity and respect shouldn’t be too difficult.

  4. Bob Miller says:

    As citizens, we need to look out for the general welfare as well as our welfare as Jews. And how much social decay around us (or, G-d forbid, among us) is needed before we seriously reconsider living here?

  5. Eric Leibman says:

    No, Marvin. No acomodation on this Not now. Not ever. Shame on you for even indirectly suggesting such a thing.

  6. SA says:

    Where America goes, can Israel be far behind?

    Unfortunately not; the pressure here for legal recognition of gay relationships (if not marriage, at least not yet) is also growing. This is extremely frightening, since homosexuality (certainly for males) is one of the sins specifically forbidden in Vayikra 18 “lest the land vomit you out for having defiled it.”

  7. Mordechai says:

    Thanks for this thought out piece.

    We must continue to resist it as much as possible, however we can, even if at times only symbolically by eschewing the terminology used by the promoters of it (e.g. referring to it as toeivah instead of gay), opposing laws banning conversion therapy, as Agudath Israel has just done in NJ, and so on.

    One day the tide will turn in a massive manner. Right now it may seem to some that the other side has succeeded, but their victories are only partial and have come about using deviousness and deceit. G-d will have the last word and the last laugh here. He is patient, but that doesn’t mean that life is a free for all. One day the bill will come due and the price will be very heavy.

  8. Joseph says:

    Kudos to Rabbi Schick for attempting to take on a difficult and uncomfortable issue. The preoccupation with so-called “marriage equality” rights has brought to the forefront of the national conversation an uncomfortable reality that always lurked beneath the surface. We conveniently leave out of our community’s books, articles, and talks on the Holocaust that along with Jews and Gypsies, the Nazis went after homosexuals. They’ve been around for a long time and if the current state of affairs is any indication, they are here to stay for the meantime. From what I’ve gathered, nowadays we do not have the authority as a Jewish community to discipline such behavior in the way the Torah says.

    As parents, what bothers many about this national topic is that it forces the uncomfortable and sensitive conversation with our children to be had with our children at an age which they should not need to be exposed to the birds and the bees. When you have two Mr.-Mr. couples living on your block, you try answering your children’s questions!

    However, that being said, if we are brutally honest with ourselves we would find that this should be no different than explaining to our children other behaviors of the society around us that the Torah deems immoral. For example, the idol worship. We don’t get into detail when we discuss it with our very young and innocent children but we do have the conversation and it should be no different with this.

    The idea of fixating on homosexuality as a sin worse than all others, is not an old testament idea. Of course one can find divrei Chazal that speak of its evil; you can find just as strong words said about business fraud as well.

    Singling out the homosexual as a sinner, more than all others is a “New Testament” idea that has no place in a genuine Torah conversation. We host all types of people at our Shabbos tables who are not observant in many ways. This is just another aveira, albeit an uncomfortable one for many to deal with.

  9. shaya says:

    Good article. A few thoughts.

    1) This is actually a fairly convincing reason to make aliyah. Even though it is on Yesh Atid’s platform, they are a small minority of overall voters and gay marriage is extremely unlikely to ever become a reality, due to right-leaning demographic and political shifts everyone knows are happening. In the US, it is going to become very difficult to raise children (if they are exposed at all to mainstream culture) who believe that gays do not deserve 100% equal legal protections and rights to marriage and everything else. It’s hard to believe that people with such views will not be more likely to go OTD, since people have trouble compartmentalizing their religious and political beliefs.

    2) Despite the overwhelming dominance of pro-gay marriage messages in the mainstream media and Hollywood, there is still a chance that the tide can turn. Most mainstream Republicans, at least outside of liberal areas, will continue to oppose gay marriage. Opposition to gay marriage have a chance of increasing if social conservatives become more saavy and systematic in promoting a moderate, reasonable social conservative agenda (such as supporting civil unions rather than marriage). One reason why so many people reflexively reject all social conservatism is the extremism and crudeness of some of its evangelical supporters.

    3) For kiruv and anti-OTD reasons, we need to make clear to people that you do not have to hold social conservative views on gays, or really anything else, to become or remain Orthodox. There are plenty of Orthodox Jews who are left-leaning politically, even if in some communities they may be less common, or less visible. We can’t stop the rise of pro-gay views among the Orthodox, because it’s happening in all sectors of society. So we might as well make clear that you can live as an enthusiastic, believing frum Jew while holding political position on the hot-button issues of the day.

  10. Raymond says:

    Male homosexual behavior is a disgusting perversion. The fact that gay marriage is even considered, is a clear indication that our society is on straight path toward its own destruction. Perhaps the worst part of this of all, is that people are forced through government law, to behave as if gay marriage is perfectly normal. It is not. If things keep going the way they have been going, Orthodox Rabbis will be forced by the law to perform such marriages. Since no legitimate Orthodox Rabbi would ever agree to such a thing, it means Orthodox Jews having to go underground, just to live according to traditional Jewish principles.

  11. avi says:

    I encounter this a good deal in my professional life. My general approach is one of indifference. I can be happy for a friend who is happy and be sad with a friend who is sad. Their personal lifestyle choices are not my own but what difference does my personal opinion really have in tachlis?

    We don’t talk politics and outside of kiruv I avoid discussing religion. The only uncomfortable period is when they do gay pride events in the office and I have to disappear for an hour. All in all though, not a big issue in my regular interactions with the outside world.

  12. Jon Baker says:

    The gay marriage revolution has indeed been quick, but perhaps not as quick as Dr. Schick says. Yes, it was used as a wedge issue in a few states in the 2004 election, but that seems to have pushed the issue itself into greater public approval. Polls had been running about 2:1 against gay marriage for many years, but after the 2004 election, it started moving towards greater approval, and most polls have it crossing 1:1 (50% approval) around 2010-2012. Which suggests that strong opposition doesn’t help.

    On the other hand, does Dr. Schick recognize how his piece reflects unflattering tropes from our history?

    For instance, “For all of the tales of discrimination, the reality is that gay righters are in positions of influence and also of affluence. Their role in the media – just open the New York Times any day – and in just about every nook and cranny of mainstream culture is powerful.” Surely he remembers when the same sorts of things were said about Jews.

    There was a grain of truth then, as well, which Dr Schick mentions, but doesn’t seem to recognize. An article in JUDAISM in 1991 tracks the continuing positive portrayal of intermarriage, from silent shorts to current sitcoms. Why? Because studio execs want to validate their own intermarriages, and now we have 50% instead of 5% intermarriage. So yes, a Jewish-influenced Hollywood did affect Jewish marriage practices negatively, if it took 60 years to take effect.

    Dr. Schick recognizes this, in “tidal waves of intermarriage”, but does not seem to see how his own piece reflects historical parallels to the current social revolution. It seems a bit odd for a Jewish pundit to make the same complaint about Hollywood that antisemites have made for decades.

    Sources:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_opinion_of_same-sex_marriage_in_the_United_States
    Jackie Mason’s World According to Hollywood. JANCU, ROBERT. Judaism40.2 (Spring 1991): 134.

  13. David F says:

    Other than outright acceptance, there are two approaches that we can adopt:
    1 – Aggressively declaring our unwillingness to accept any form of legitimization of SSM.
    2 – Passively refusing to accept it.

    I don’t presume myself great enough to decide on a proper approach, but I am certain that just because one approach may be highly unpopular and may not even win the day, it does not mean that it is the wrong approach.
    I have no idea whether strong opposition to the Golden Calf would have succeeded in averting it, but I’m certain that it would have been the correct approach and it might have greatly mitigated the Divine Wrath that was visited upon us subsequently.

    I, for one, will not accept the legitimacy of this behavior regardless of how much it’s touted in the popular media. The NYT was wrong on many moral issues such as the Holocaust, and now is wrong again on the next wave of destruction that threatens to engulf society. I have long ago made a decision not to read it and shall continue to abide by that decision. There aren’t many good alternatives, but that’s no excuse for regularly filling my mind with morally indigestible content.

  14. Solomon says:

    The issue is not one of religious significance. We are not facing a requirement for Jews to accept gay marriage as Jewishly permitted (or as accepted by G-d). Instead it is an issue of in what realms a secular government can impose itself on the choices of its citizens. For Jews, the historical truth is – the fewer then better. As such, we should feel comfortable advocating to remove government restrictions on personal choice where ever possible.

  15. shaya says:

    You make an excellent point about Black and Hispanic poverty. It’s really extraordinary when you think about it from a big-picture point of view. On the one hand you have a small sexual minority who suffer psychologically and socially — though it’s totally unclear why simply toleration, rather than full acceptance and normalization, would not be enough to get rid of most of this suffering. Then on the other hand you have a significant proportion of country, 20%-30%, in dire crisis, suffering from mass incarceration (itself caused to a large extent by discrimination), widespread joblessness, family breakdown, the failure of the educational system, etc. For some reason, over the past few years, the former issue, which affects a lot fewer people and involves a less substantial form of deprivation, is all the rage, while the latter issue gets virtually no attention in the mainstream press, or even the political agenda of left-leaning politics. It’s really disgraceful. “Justice, justice you shall pursue.”

  16. David F says:

    Rabbi Oberstein,

    “My Republican friends like to paint this as a “liberal i.e. Democratic” idea,but it is far more pervasive than they realize.”

    Today it may not be only a liberal idea, but it’s acceptance in the public square most certainly is thanks to the liberal democrats who’ve pushed it at every opportunity. I can’t imagine anyone would argue that point.

  17. Rafael A. says:

    Kalman: Once we accept that we live in a free country where not everyone is like us, and everyone (including Orthodox Jews!) has the right to be different and live our lives as we see fit, then treating gays and lesbians with dignity and respect shouldn’t be too difficult.

    Sorry, but Judaism does not believe that one Jew can just allow another to live life as they see fit. Yiddishkeit does not promote or allow a live and let live attitude. We are all responsible for one another and we cannot turn a blind eye. Further, its funny you make this argument when those on the left or Orthodoxy always claim that we are not required to require correct beliefs. We are only required to ensure that the boundaries of Orthodoxy are defined by adherence to halochoh. However, they have a soft spot for homosexuality so that argument essentially goes out the window.

    Joseph – the focus on homosexuality comes as a result of the push, since 1969 and the bathhouse riots, to push this aveirah into the public eye. The focus of frum Yidden on this particular sin is because of blatantly public profile and agenda, which involves radical changes to laws and societal norms. So far, I haven’t see an explicit movement to hold a pride parade for fraudsters (though in today’s world, nothing would surprise me).

    Solomon – you say that the fewer impositions by s secular government, the better. Well then, you should support the proposed Arizonian legislation the prevents interference into the private sector. That prevents such interference in the private religious choices individuals make when they show disapproval of homosexuality. Do you approve then of such a law?

  18. Bob Miller says:

    Our one and only local daily newspaper pushes the “gay” agenda incessantly in every possible section of the paper. One theme is that creative employees will not live here if the “gays” can’t marry. So who’s been living here ’til now? Who has ever demonstrated any significant connection to innate creativity? People on LSD also thought they were unusually creative. It’s a rerun of every other leftist political initiative to destroy civil society, the backbone of the country.

  19. CNS says:

    Dr. Schick writes: “Indeed, one of the side effects – probably unintended – of the avalanche-like advocacy of gay rights is that all other critical social needs, such as the rights and economic situation of Blacks and Hispanics, have been put on the back burner.”

    I could not agree more. The problem is that SSM politics are good for everyone. For liberals, it allows them to champion a cause and “do something” that in the end of the day costs nothing and asks nothing of them. For conservatives, its a great rallying cry against the evils of liberalism. This lets everyone of the hook from talking about the hard questions in society, such as poverty and income inequality.

  20. Eric Leibman says:

    Homosexual behavior is an abomination condemned in the Torah very clearly and explicily. It is one of the key sexual sins mentioned in the special reading on Yom Kippur. We must vociferously and categorically oppose it at every turn and every possible opportunity, in the same sense that we are instructed by the Torah not to follow a multitude to do evil. We and our families are not immune to the social decay of the larger non Jewish world. Our children must see us fight this hard so that the line of demarcation is clear. And if we do not fight them now, they will ultimately succeed in achieving their real goal, which is making it illegal and punishable by fine, imprisonment or both to quote from the Torah on homosexuality or address it from the bimah. If you can’t see this is where they are in fact going with this, you are blind, indeed.

  21. DF says:

    The problem is the confusion between “” homosexuals “” and homosexual “” marriage ““. Less than 30 years ago the very act of homosexuality was a crime in many states. That, I think, most people no longer support. Why indeed should the government involve itself so intrusively in the most private affairs of the people? Distinguish that from homosexual marriage, which is visible, public, and often flamboyant. Support for such concepts, although plentiful among the youth in certain pockets of the country, is not nearly as widespread as L. Oberstein (for example) seems to think. That important distinction must be drawn, again and again.

    Dr. Schick says he has no clear vision of how to fight it. So let me offer three concrete suggestions:

    1) Refuse to accept the term “homophobe.” Opponents must tirelessly point out, at every turn, that not permitting homosexuals to “marry” one another is not the same as persecuting them. At the same time, turn the table around by labeling the proponents “irreligious bigots.” That is just as fair [and really, fairness is not even a factor] as calling objectors homophobes. This is what the “pro life” movement did to the “pro choice” people, and vice versa, and it effectively neutralized the force of those terms.

    2) Reject the preposterous numbers we are told of the actual amount of homosexuals. We hear ridiculous numbers, almost all of which are predicated on assumptions, which cannot be proven, that they are vast numbers of homosexuals out there, just “in the closet.” They do this to explain the inconvenient fact that most people know very, very few actual homosexuals. These unfounded claims have to be attacked and rejected.

    3) Finally, the most important step is not to concede on the notion that homosexuality cannot be changed. This is an enormous topic, obviously. But all of homosexual political agitation is pinned to the claim that it cannot be changed, and is thus akin to color or gender. There are many who are afraid to voice their opinion on this, but there are many who are not. This is the theatre where the battle will be won or lost.

  22. Steve Brizel says:

    One critical fact that the acceptance of SSM clearly implies( but is off the table of any PC oriented discussion) is that any civilization that fails to reproduce itself ,as pointed out elsewhere on the web, is gradually doomed to extinction, as we can see already in Western Europe. Whether by “reproductive rights” or by the acceptance of SSM at the expense of the free exercise of religion, this built in demographic fact of life has been mooted in all serious discussions of the issue of whether SSM should be approved of by the state.

  23. mycroft says:

    ” I can picture situations where religious Jews who work in government have to process documents that accept or legitimate same sex marriage.”

    Of course anyone who works in a governmental agency that deals with marriage documents has already been processing interfaith marriages.

  24. shaya says:

    Steve, it’s possible that the popularization of homosexuality through favorable laws would decrease the birth rate, but it seems clear enough that it will never become popular enough to cause a society to extinguish itself through lack of reproduction.

    If you’re looking for a non-religious rational basis against gay rights in general and SSM in general, I think the best argument is promiscuity. The average gay male has many, many more sexual partners in his lifetime than does a heterosexual male (and in a significant percentage of cases this is “unsafe sex.”) This is clearly a big public health problem, causing the spread of disease. The Hellenistic left could never be made to care about such things because they have no real argument against promiscuity. But the promiscuity argument could be enough to save traditional marriage in some courts.

  25. Charlie Hall says:

    For the record, here is an excerpt from Yeshiva University’s Equal Employment Opportunity Statement:

    “recruitment, hiring, training, promotion, and all other personnel actions take place, and all programs and activities involving students, both academic and non-academic, are administered without regard to race, religion, creed, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, veteran or disabled veteran status, genetic predisposition/carrier status, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or citizenship status as those terms are used in the law.”

    Yes, sexual orientation is included. It is the law in New York City and in New York State.

  26. Charlie Hall says:

    I have been suggesting that the only way out of this is to get the government out of the marriage business altogether. (The idea is not original with me.) Any couple that wants the financial benefits of marriage (and there are many — remember that the Windsor case that killed the Defense of Marriage Act was about a woman who objected to paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in extra taxes because the federal government did not recognize her marriage) can get a civil union certificate. Anyone who wants a religious marriage can do so without the government. It would address our objection to officially sponsored same sex marriages. And it would provide the same sex couples the financial benefits they are being denied in most states — and are unlikely to get for the foreseeable future in most states short of a Supreme Court decision that will be hugely divisive.

    The trouble is, neither side seems to be interested in compromise at the moment. The SSM proponents think that time is on their side, and many SSM opponents see any compromise as equivalent to surrender.

  27. Toby Katz says:

    Marriage as an institution is altogether in a shambles in America today. Liberals don’t even believe in marriage but suddenly gays have to be married. They’re the only people who simply HAVE to be married or they can’t have any love and joy in their lives. Give me a break.

  28. Yehoshua Friedman says:

    To begin with, I salute Dr. Schick in his candid humility that he has no simple solution and solicits the comments of the educated menschlich tzibur of CC readers. SSM is a clear sign of the decline of western society as was homosexual culture in the Greco-Roman world. Read Plato and you see how accepted those relationships were. But even then the culture realized that the continuing existence of society demanded that men hold their noses and raise families to produce heirs. We frum Jews are among the few sectors of society which are still building normal families and reproducing. We should do it in our land, in Eretz Yisrael where the Torah tells us how vital it is that abominations be avoided. Frum Jews should make aliya and strengthen the traditional society here. Thank G-d we are far behind the “advancements” of the western world in taking apart conventional morality. Even most people in EY who protest that they are not frum are quite traditional in their outlook. Eventually the decadent sector of western culture will collapse from failure to reproduce. That is also happening with Islam. Read David Goldman aka Spengler, a baal teshuva and brilliant commentator, in this regard. Let us go about our business, raise our families, be faithful to our spouses, our children, our G-d and our land, and we will survive it.

  29. SA says:

    Shaya: Seriously? Of all the reasons to make aliya, I’m not sure this is one of them.
    Here, as elsewhere, gay rights are pushed as human/civil rights, with the exact same results as elsewhere.

    Israeli law already legally recognizes “common law” relationships between gay couples. There is legislation in the pipeline to pay child allowances to male couples who are parents. A new global survey by Hague-based Center for Strategic Studies declared the Israel Defense Forces among world’s top 10 gay-friendly armies. There are pride parades everywhere, including Jerusalem.

    Tel Aviv has been designated “the most gay-friendly city” in a poll by a gay travel website, which calls the gay life there “perhaps the most vibrant in the Middle East.” The write-up praises the openness of the city by the sea and says that thanks to “the democratic tradition of Israel, the gay community enjoys political freedom as in no other middle-eastern country.” In fact, pro-Israel activists and even government spokesmen sometimes use Israel’s liberal treatment of gays as a talking point when trying to contrast Israel with the surrounding dictatorial Arab regimes.

    So if anything, Shaya, the only reason to make aliya in this context is to vote and protest against any further deterioration of the situation.

    Steve Brizel: This is *so* 20th century. Reproductive technologies and surrogacy arrangements make having children possible for anyone who wants them, no matter what kind of relationship they’re in, or even if they’re in no relationship at all.

  30. Anna says:

    Just wondering about DF’s third point, “not to concede on the notion that homosexuality cannot be changed.” Presumably this also applies to heterosexuality?

  31. L. Oberstein says:

    At the start of this Republic, there were certain things that were “self evident”. Even a generation ago,no one thought that marriage between two people of the same gender was normal. Then, the psychiatrists were told that homosexuality is not a disease . Rabbi Dr Tzvi Hersh Weinreb often would say that this was very strictly enforced and only in religious circls could one even suggst that it is aberrant behavior. i think the fundamental change is that we no longer have any ‘self evident” values that are universally shared. Society believes that what you do is your own business and the rest of us have no right to tell you how to live your lives. Children say this to their parents all the time, it is just a question of how far off the derech it goes.Well, gay marriage and abortion on demand are indeed the two pillarfs of the liberal left (see, I accept tha as true!). Jewish organizatins like the National Jewish Democratgic Coalition rate candidates at least as much on those two core issues as they do uncritical support for Israel (which ain’t what it used to be either).
    The answer that moderate Democrats would give is that what I do in my own family or private life is my business and govenment should not interfere in these choices. that is how many Catholic politicians deal with gay marriage,etc. This is a bigger issue for them as their church is non compromising on abortion and most of the catholic Democrats support “A woman’s right to choose”. It is all in how you frame the issue. I know that if Rabbi Neuberger were alive, he would fight gay marriage to the end.He wold not sit and remain passive. But, as I’ve said, the other side is not the generation that respected that point of view. Non orthodox Judaism has endorced the gay agenda and most Jewish politicians are not frum and , in reality, people like Joe Lieberman also have found it expedient or honestly believe ( I think it is the latter) to support gay rights.So, fight on, but at the moment, we are not on the winning side, for the present.

  32. YM says:

    One day the tide will turn in a massive manner. Right now it may seem to some that the other side has succeeded, but their victories are only partial and have come about using deviousness and deceit. G-d will have the last word and the last laugh here. He is patient, but that doesn’t mean that life is a free for all. One day the bill will come due and the price will be very heavy.

    Indeed. Though the tide turning may indeed happen within the next 10 years, if science discovers the biological basis for homosexual tendencies, and then also a prenatal “cure”.

  33. Rafael A. says:

    Anna – no it doesn’t. It comes down to this assumption of the Torah: heterosexuality is more than permitted, its encouraged. Homosexuality is prohibited. Therefore, we cannot treat both the same. Since homosexuality is explicitly prohibited by the Torah, and the nature of this orientation is so completely different from other prohibited heterosexual acts in the Torah, like incest, it must be that it is abnormal behavior and that behavior, which can be prohibited, is therefore by nature something that can be changed. Heterosexuality, in contrast to how its treated by the Torah, would stand to reason that it cannot be changed.

    Further, why would we concede this point. If you accept this view, than you have no issue with homosexuality and don’t feel that the Torah’s prohibition is binding. Well, as an Orthodox Jew, I do have an issue and the Torah prohibition is binding.

  34. shaya says:

    SA, all that is true, yet still, SSM is still much less likely to happen there, and SSM is a whole different ballgame, because with complete legal equality comes the notion, now commonplace in the US, that anyone who disagrees with any gay-rights issue is a “bigot,” just as bad as a racist. I think it’s extremely unlikely things will ever get that bad in Israel, at least outside of secular-leftist enclaves, though time will tell.

  35. Bob Miller says:

    Charlie Hall wrote:
    “Any couple that wants the financial benefits of marriage (and there are many — remember that the Windsor case that killed the Defense of Marriage Act was about a woman who objected to paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in extra taxes because the federal government did not recognize her marriage) can get a civil union certificate.”

    But why provide financial benefits to those who are married? Because stable family life, especially a stable environment to give birth to and rear children, our future responsible citizens, has been generally and correctly accepted as a social good to be promoted through policy. No such good attaches to this new travesty of marriage except in the eyes of participants and their politically correct supporters. Should we blind ourselves to reality because some fools have an alternative reality?

  36. Marvin Schick says:

    I am grateful for the many comments to my post on gay rights. Although I am still at sea re the question that I asked, many of the comments make valuable points that are worthy of serious consideration. I need to respond to a single comment, it being from a person who writes “Shame on you for even indirectly suggesting” accommodation with gay marriage. I made no suggestions, direct or indirect.

    Marvin Schick

  37. kalman says:

    Rafael A.:

    Let’s say I accept your position that “we cannot turn a blind eye” to violations of halacha, and therefore we need to use the machinery of the secular state to deny legal protections to homosexuals, because they violate Jewish law. Don’t we also have to get the government to discriminate against Hindus (who worship more than one deity)? Intermarried Jews? The sale of treif in heavily Jewish neighborhoods?

    That was my original point. Since we apparently have decided that we’re OK with Hindu temples opening up in our communities, and we haven’t asked the state to ban marriages between Jews and non-Jews, or between Kohanim and divorcees, then it isn’t clear to me why we need to try to get the government to discriminate against gays and lesbians. I’m not suggesting that we adopt a “live and let live” attitude. I’m suggesting that we live according to halacha, think (and teach our kids) that those who violate halacha are making a mistake, treat who don’t follow our religious law with dignity and respect, and demand that they treat us with dignity and respect as well. This is the only way to be a committed religious minority in a diverse society.

  38. Steve Brizel says:

    S. – think of how marriage as viewed in the Torah , Talmud and Rishonim, and then think of what marriage means in the secular world. I stand by my view that any similarilties between the two concepts have long ceased to exist. RYBS noted , based on the intro of Rambam to Hilcos Ishus that prior to Matan Torah, man and woman just “hooked up”. After Matan Torah, marriage between a Jewish man and woman became an act endowed with communal approval before witnesses and at 10 Jewish men, and the encouragement of all present that the couple build a Bayis Neeman BYisrael. I overheard a young woman in the elevator in my office building telling her office mates that her obviously secular wedding would just be a small affair confined to her immediate friends for which she was escaping from NYC to Paris. I thought to myself-how pathetic such an affair pales in comparison to any chasunah in the frum world in terms of purpose and goals.

    The courts and political atmosphere today are overwhelmingly in favor of protecting any kind of rights that are purportedly violated, and especially when the opposition is predicated on the free exercise of religion. What bothers me is the rationale-legitimization of SSM is a small step away from legalizing “relationships” that we read in the Parshas HaArayos every YK at Mincha.

  39. Joseph says:

    Rafael A., good point about the “pride” movement, but it does not address one important contributing factor:A long history of persecution of homosexuals. I am not advocating giving them shlishi on Shabbos morning, but to discriminate against them?
    I remember when the sh’eila came up where our gabbai gave a Kohein, who was married to a gerusha, pesicha. A kana’i made a public protest and the Rabbi threw the kana’i out of shul. When I discussed this incident with the Rivivos Ephraim, he pulled out the Shulchan Arch, pointed to restrictions of giving honors to such a Kohein and said that from the fact that Chazal tell us not to give him an Aliya, we see that other kibbudim are allowed. He also said that it is possible that someone not in position to get the Kohein to change his ways transgresses mitzvos by adding sanctions beyond what Chazal instructed us and thereby trying to correct him in public.

    The point is that we need to keep it in perspective. It’s wrong and just like all things that are terribly wrong that have been around for years, we need to communicate to our children that it is terribly wrong. However, not through militance and hateful means, as one commenter seemed to imply. Such methods only serve to close the hypersensitive of today’s youth.

  40. mb says:

    What is oft mentioned by opponents of the acceptance of homosexuality and/or gay marriage(and has in the comments to this piece) is that it leads to the decline of civilisation.
    There is no historical evidence of this whatsoever.In fact quite the opposite. Both Greece and Rome rose with very liberal attitudes to homosexuality and same sex marriage was performed in the early days of the Roman Empire, including 2 of its emperors.
    So please be intellectually honest.

  41. Neil from Ohio says:

    I believe that Jews are commanded by G-d to avoid certain behaviors, one of which is same-sex intimacy. So I avoid that behavior, just as I avoid eating pork and shell fish for the same reason.

    I believe that what consenting adults do in the privacy of their own homes is their own business. If I meet two men or two women who share a home, I could not care less whether they are a gay couple or merely an “odd couple”.

    But there is a big difference between tolerance and approval. In the unlikely event that I would ever be invited to a homosexual “wedding”, I would not go, just as I would not attend an intermarriage. I have no hatred in my heart for any of the participants, but that does not mean that I would be willing to participate.

    Service providers should have the same right of non-participation. There is no reason to compel a florist or a baker or a photographer to accept a client that he or she does not want. That is a clear and present violation of their civil rights.

  42. Yehoshua Friedman says:

    SA: You claimed that Israel is friendly to homosexuality and therefore there is no advantage to be gained by aliya in this particular regard (as opposed to living in a state of Jews, etc.). TA is the most gay-friendly city in the MIDDLE EAST. That, my friend, is as opposed to the surrounding Arab and Islamic states, where people can be punished or persecuted in all sorts of interesting ways for such behavior. In the rest of Israel the majority of the public is traditional or religious and is not fond of deviant sexuality, to say the least.

    Neil from Ohio: Comparing SSM to pork and shellfish is not a fair comparison because former is also a violation of Sheva Mitzvot Bnai Noach and binding on all humanity. In Bereisit and the Gemara Sanhedrin (57-59) it is clear that the lines of species and gender are part of the natural law of creation which applies to all human beings, not just our tribe. Also Chazal (elsewhere, have to look it up) state that one of the reasons the goyim are not destroyed is because they do not sell human flesh in the marketplace (maybe Chinese forced organ transplants?) and because they do not write a marriage contract for a male (SSM!). If you are looking at destructive behavior which is threatening the continued existence of society, we should not just sit on our hands and avoid offending people but look for effective (underlined and duly emphasized) ways of calling attention and warning people of the danger implicit in that behavior on the individual as well as social level.

  43. YM Goldstein says:

    Our senior most learned sages must instruct us on our approach to these challenging issues.

  44. S. Benson says:

    A few thoughts:
    “the reality that gay rights advocacy has been primarily the mission of haves while most social revolutions are advocated by and/or have nots.”
    Well, given the amount of physical violence, loss of jobs, etc. put gays in the “have not” category.

    DF
    1) Refuse to accept the term “homophobe.” Opponents must tirelessly point out, at every turn, that not permitting homosexuals to “marry” one another is not the same as persecuting them. At the same time, turn the table around by labeling the proponents “irreligious bigots.” That is just as fair [and really, fairness is not even a factor] as calling objectors homophobes. This is what the “pro life” movement did to the “pro choice” people, and vice versa, and it effectively neutralized the force of those terms.
    Response: reframing the debate is going to be difficult if not impossible. The counter to “homophobe” is not “irreligious bigot” as those who are irreligious won’t be taken back by the term and bigot doesn’t work in this context.

    2) Reject the preposterous numbers we are told of the actual amount of homosexuals. We hear ridiculous numbers, almost all of which are predicated on assumptions, which cannot be proven, that they are vast numbers of homosexuals out there, just “in the closet.” They do this to explain the inconvenient fact that most people know very, very few actual homosexuals. These unfounded claims have to be attacked and rejected.
    Response: I don’t know about the “inconvenient fact” but those of us who work in the general society probably do know some homosexuals. And, no assumptions can’t be proven but they can be validated as being useful thus the range of 2-10% (depending on the specific study) seems fairly accurate and has been reproduced multiple times.

    3) Finally, the most important step is not to concede on the notion that homosexuality cannot be changed. This is an enormous topic, obviously. But all of homosexual political agitation is pinned to the claim that it cannot be changed, and is thus akin to color or gender. There are many who are afraid to voice their opinion on this, but there are many who are not. This is the theatre where the battle will be won or lost.
    Response: This theater has pretty much been lost. There is a small percentage of success in “curing” sexual orientation but, on the whole, it’s been a failure.

    Please understand I am not advocating anything against the Torah. But we can’t advocate if we blind ourselves to the reality out there.

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