rymenhild: Manuscript page from British Library MS Harley 913 (Default)
[cross-posted to om_nom @ dreamwidth]

Heterosexual marriage damages traditional conservative values. You didn't know that? Well, take a look at the newest wisdom from Michael Steele.

Republicans can reach a broader base by recasting gay marriage as an issue that could dent pocketbooks as small businesses spend more on health care and other benefits, GOP Chairman Michael Steele said Saturday...

"Now all of a sudden I've got someone who wasn't a spouse before, that I had no responsibility for, who is now getting claimed as a spouse that I now have financial responsibility for," Steele told Republicans at the state convention in traditionally conservative Georgia. "So how do I pay for that? Who pays for that? You just cost me money."


Imagine the (presumably Republican) small business owner A. A's employee, B, marries an otherwise uninsured person of the opposite gender, C. In the present American health-care system (if it can be called a system!), A now has to insure C, so B's marriage is a burden on A's business. I fail to see how this situation is any different from the marriage of employee D and otherwise uninsured spouse E, when D and E happen to have matching XX or XY chromosome pairs. In both cases, marriage impoverishes the small business owner! Shocking! Wouldn't it be easier for A if no one got married at all?

You know what's even more shocking? Married couples sometimes produce children, and they too have to be insured by small business owner A. A's employees' procreation places an unwarranted burden on A, that good Republican business owner. By this logic, Republicans should be anti-childbirth! In fact, they should support all manner of birth control and abortion, because these things save small business owners money. Oh, wait, I forgot, Republicans are against abortion. Why not outlaw sex, extra- or intra-marital? Then no one will have to worry about poor A's insurance outlays.

Actually, I have a better idea. Why not let the American government provide us all with health insurance? Then A won't have to worry about it, and all of those heterosexuals and homosexuals and bisexuals can get married and have children without imperiling A's bottom line. Now, that supports good Republican values.
rymenhild: Manuscript page from British Library MS Harley 913 (Default)
After years of debate, the Conservative Movement's Committee for Jewish Law and Standards (CJLS) has finally come to a conclusion regarding commitment ceremonies and ordination for gays and lesbians. The Conservative Movement of American Judaism being what it is, the committee has actually come to three conclusions.

From the press release, as posted at [livejournal.com profile] cons_judaism:

At the CJLS meetings, five specific teshuvot were extensively discussed in a spirit of collegiality and open-mindedness. Two teshuvot -- one authored by Rabbi Joel Roth and the other authored by Rabbis Elliot Dorff, Daniel Nevins and Avram Reisner -- obtained clear majority support. Rabbi Roth’s responsum “Homosexuality Revisited” reaffirmed the prior position, which denied ordination as clergy to active homosexuals and also prohibited same sex commitment ceremonies or marriage. In contrast, Rabbis Dorff, Nevins and Reisner, while retaining the Torah’s explicit prohibition, as understood by the rabbis banning male homosexual intercourse, argued in “Homosexuality, Human Dignity and Halakhah” for the full normalization of the status of gay and lesbian Jews. Under this ruling, gay and lesbian Jews may be ordained as clergy and their committed relationships may be recognized, although not as sanctified marriage.

A third teshuva accepted by the CJLS, written by Rabbi Leonard Levy, which upheld the traditional prohibitions, argued that homosexuality is not a unitary condition and urged the development of educational programs within the community to achieve understanding, compassion and dignity for gays and lesbians. There was also some support on the committee for a more comprehensive repeal of the prior ban against homosexual relationships. All authors of teshuvot shared a universal appreciation for the principle of kvod habriot and the welfare of gays and lesbians in our community.

During its deliberations the CJLS did not discuss – nor do any of the papers reflect – any determination regarding gay marriage.


My response: Thank God, the Dorff opinion passed. I'm relieved to know that ordination of gays and lesbians and performance of commitment ceremonies is possible (at rabbis' discretion) in my movement. That said, I find myself -- surprisingly -- disappointed that neither of the opinions further left than Dorff's passed. I should be glad to see that the Conservative movement is keeping itself within rigorous Jewish law, and that it isn't discarding tradition for the sake of rendering all homosexual activity (read: anal sex for men) permissible. And yet, and yet... I can't articulate what it is about not passing the Tucker opinion that disappoints me, but something does.

In any case, I certainly don't mind that gay and lesbian relationships can't be recognized as marriage. The Jewish marriage ceremony, ancient and venerable as it is, still has elements that make the feminist in me cringe. I mean, it's designed to pass a woman into the control and guardianship of her husband. If I were straight and planning my wedding, I'd probably use a minimally modified traditional Jewish wedding ceremony for the sake of the tradition. Not having access to that ceremony doesn't make me feel deprived, in any case.

Thoughts, anyone? Say what you want honestly, but bear in mind that this is my journal, and homophobia of the sort I've seen spouted on other Jewish LJ communities this week will either be stamped on or laughed at. I will not, of course, be deleting comments with which I disagree, but I may begin arguing with them.

ETA: More information from the Jewish Daily Forward. Apparently four CJLS committee members, including Rabbi Roth, resigned to protest the approval of the Dorff tshuvah. The article also discusses what today's results are likely to mean for ordination at the movement's two rabbinical schools.

Edited again to add: I just noticed (with help from [livejournal.com profile] spin0za1) further description of the Levy tshuvah in the Forward article.

At Wednesday’s vote, held at Manhattan’s Park Avenue Synagogue, five teshuvot were on the table, covering a diverse spectrum of opinion. The teshuvot in favor of upholding the ban on gay ordination and same-sex unions included...one written by Rabbi Leonard Levy, making the case that homosexuality is an illness that can be cured.

Other sites I've clicked on today suggest that Rabbi Levy is actually endorsing reparative therapy -- and that this endorsement is now legally part of Conservative Judaism. Excuse me? What on earth is bad science doing in an approved CJLS opinion?

Third edit: Rabbi Jason Miller has posted further information on his blog.

Fourth edit: In response to the CJLS decisions, the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ), the arm of the movement that governs synagogues (rather than rabbis), is planning to change its policies to permit the hiring of openly gay or lesbian employees. Rabbi Jerome Epstein, executive vice president of USCJ, has also spoken out against reparative therapy. (Thanks, Dan!)
rymenhild: Manuscript page from British Library MS Harley 913 (Default)
(cross-posted to [livejournal.com profile] one_in_a_minyan)

From last Friday's Forward, here:

The ordination of gay rabbis and the sanctioning of same-sex marriage within Conservative Judaism is near certain, according to movement leaders who spoke at a meeting in New York on Thursday night.

...

In December, the law committee “might accept — will accept, I think — two or more of the papers [currently under consideration]: one that affirms the current state of affairs, and one, at least, that liberalizes it,” [Rabbi Jerome] Epstein [executive vice president of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism] told the audience. He added that while he believed that the movement had room enough for congregations differing in their treatment of homosexuality, the question of whether or not to accept gay rabbis and gay marriage “could be, at least theoretically, divisive” within synagogues.


Continued... )

In other words, the Conservative movement looks likely to sit on both sides of the fence again. I just want to know how JTS and UJ (the movement's seminaries) can simultaneously abide by Dorff's opinion, that it is permissible to ordain openly gay rabbis, and by Roth's, that it isn't. Can any of you help explain?
rymenhild: Manuscript page from British Library MS Harley 913 (Default)
The news from the CJLS (the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, in charge of determining religious law for the rabbis of Judaism's Conservative Movement, in case you haven't been following along here) regarding same-sex marriages and ordination of gay and lesbian clergy is apparently no news. The committee asked the authors of the submitted opinions to revise their proposals; the issue will be treated again the next time the CJLS convenes in December.

ETA: The Forward has more details, including news of a recent change in the CJLS policies that requires 80% unanimity, instead of the more usual 24%, to approve legal opinions on "particularly momentous" issues (i.e., given the issues facing the Conservative Movement lately, gays, gays and gays!).

Edited again, on March 7, to add: Either the Forward article was unclear or I misread it. The New York Times article post-non-vote explains that only the most radical proposal on the table, which advocated a complete change (takanah) in Jewish law, would require an 80% vote to pass. The other three opinions only need the normal 24%.
rymenhild: Manuscript page from British Library MS Harley 913 (Default)
(cross-posted to [livejournal.com profile] one_in_a_minyan)

It's official and public: Next week, the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards (CJLS), the group of rabbis in charge of examining Jewish law on behalf of the centrist Conservative Movement of Judaism, is voting on same-sex marriage and ordination of gay and lesbian rabbis. All of the opinions have been written; there's nothing left for the CJLS to do but vote on which one (or more) of them to accept as binding halacha (law, sort of).

Pray with me that the committee makes its choice with wisdom and mercy. (I'm also praying that the committee legalizes both same-sex marriage and ordination of gay clergy*, but I recognize that even on Livejournal not everyone shares my political opinions.)

*Edit, thanks to [livejournal.com profile] naomichana: ...in a halachically viable manner...

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