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Feldman: Americans of all sexual orientations should be allowed the rights, privileges, joys and responsibilities of marriage.
Contact: Donald Cohen-Cutler, 212.650.4213
In response to the State Assembly’s vote in favor of the bill to legalize same-sex marriage Rabbi Marla Feldman, the Director of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism, under which the Reform Jewish Voice of New York State operates, issued the following statement:
We wholeheartedly applaud the Assembly’s vote of 85-61 mandating equal access to civil marriage for all New Yorkers. This is an historic moment for equality rights in New York, and brings us one step closer to the goal of full civil equality for all citizens. The bill (A.8590) “grants equal access to the government-created legal institution of civil marriage, while leaving the religious institution of marriage to its own separate and fully autonomous, sphere.”
Clergy whose faith tradition allows for same sex marriage, and who choose to solemnize those marriages, would finally be permitted to do so under the law. However, nothing in this bill would require clergy to officiate at same sex marriages and clergy would continue to be free to decide their role in such ceremonies.
Americans of all sexual orientations should be allowed the rights, privileges, joys and responsibilities of marriage. The continued denial of the right to civil marriage for gay men and lesbians denigrates those faiths that celebrate the unions of loving same-sex couples and, as a matter of religious principle, consider such partnerships legally binding, holy unions. Without affirmation by civil authorities, these sacred unions are denied equal access to the rights and privileges granted to other couples by the government.
As Jews, we are taught in the very beginning of the Torah that God created humans B’tselem Elohim, in the Divine image, and therefore the diversity of creation represents the vastness of the Eternal (Genesis 1:27). We oppose discrimination against all individuals, including gay men and lesbians, for the stamp of the Divine is present in each and every human being.