Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) Jews

Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) Jews (2012)

Background

The 2006 teshuvah “Homosexuality, Human Dignity and Halakhah” (by Rabbis Elliot Dorff, Daniel Nevins and Avram Reisner) effectively normalizes the status of gay and lesbian Jews in the Jewish community. Extending the 1992 Committee on Jewish Law and Standards’ consensus statement, gay and lesbian Jews are to be welcomed into our synagogues and other institutions as full members with no restrictions. Furthermore, gay or lesbian Jews who demonstrate the depth of Jewish commitment, knowledge, faith, and desire to serve as rabbis, cantors and educators shall be welcomed to apply to our professional schools and associations. Heterosexual marriage between two Jews remains the halakhic ideal. For homosexuals, the rabbinic prohibitions that have been associated with other gay and lesbian intimate acts are superseded based upon the talmudic principle of kvod habriot, our obligation to preserve the human dignity of all people.

This teshuvah did not rule on the halakhic status of gay and lesbian relationships. The authors indicated that to do so would require the development of ceremonies and legal instruments for creating and dissolving such unions. In 2012, Rabbis Dorff, Nevins and Reisner wrote an appendix to their teshuvah, “Rituals and Documents of Marriage and Divorce for Same Sex Couples,” that provides examples of rituals and documents that conform to the halakhic requirements they set out. They state, “We are convinced that the nomenclature of gay marriage and divorce should be equal and clearly stated as such, not obscured in ambiguous language. Thus, even though the halakhic mechanism for binding the couple together is distinct from the traditional model of kiddushin, the result is still a Jewish marriage. The status of this relationship in civil law will depend upon the jurisdiction within which the ceremony occurs and the reciprocal recognition rules in the state/province where the couple resides. Performance of the Jewish wedding ceremony is not to be considered a civil marriage in those jurisdictions which prohibit same-sex marriage.”

Resolution

WHEREAS, gay and lesbian Jews have experienced not only the constant threats of physical violence and homophobic rejection, but also the pains of anti-Semitism known to all Jews and, additionally, a sense of painful alienation from their own religious institutions;

WHEREAS, there have been attempts in both the U.S. and Canada to define marriage to preclude the marriage of gays and lesbians; and

WHEREAS, gays and lesbians in committed relationships are, in many arenas, still denied benefits afforded heterosexual couples, such as: denial of access to partner when the partner is ill; denial of the ability to adopt; and denial of the ability of one partner to share medical benefits with the other;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that Women’s League for Conservative Judaism:

  • Deplores the violence against GLBT’s in our society;
  • Reiterates that, as are all Jews, gay men and lesbians, bisexual and transgender individuals, are welcome as members in our congregations;
  • Supports full civil equality for GLBT Jews. The same benefits afforded heterosexual couples should be afforded same sex couples;
  • Calls upon our sisterhoods to run programs to increase awareness, understanding and concern for our fellow Jews who are gay and lesbian; and
  • Calls on sisterhoods to advocate against local and Federal laws that discriminate against GLBT individuals.