Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Passover Discussion about Gay Marriage

I spent the first days of this Passover with my parents at a hotel at the Dead Sea. These religious holiday getaways are generally pretty boring, but it was nice spending the time with my family. Saturday afternoon at the hotel, a rabbi was giving a class on "religious coercion and Jewish law". Knowing my extreme disdain for religion and especially for religious coercion, my parents thought it would be interesting if I went to the lecture with them.

To be honest, the lecture was surprisingly good. The Rabbi was as opened minded as Orthodox Judaism can allow. His overall point was "if people want to live in sin, forcing them to live according to Jewish law won't make them love god and want to live according to the Torah". The interesting part came after the lecture when my mom wanted to discuss what I thought about the matter.

The discussion started out as a debate on morality. My mom thinks religion, specifically Judaism is the proper moral way of life. I explained why I felt it was immoral in general and specifically not a life style for me. She responded by saying that my dislike for religion is simply because of "my life situation", which translates to "because I am gay". And at that point, the conversation became about gay marriage.

I tried to explain to my mom that she can be against gay marriage and hate it all she wants. But that still doesn't mean she has to expect others to agree with her or live by those same rules. I explained that she already recognizes civil, Christian, Muslim, Hindu etc marriages which according to her belief system are not real marriages. But she said that gay marriage would "destroy the moral fabric of society".

Its funny how many people use that line, but no one really seems to know what it means. How would gay marriage destroy the moral fabric of society? Would it create more killers, more thieves? Would 2 gay men living together and being able to file taxes jointly create more rapists?

My mothers final line was "just don't call it marriage". But again, why not? What is marriage? The way I see there are basically 3 major kinds of marriage. The first is the religious kind. The "holy union" declared in some ceremony, by some form of clergy. In this kind of marriage, each religion and each clergy gets to decide their own rules. I really don't expect Orthodox Judaism or the Catholic Church to start performing gay marriages (and I really don't care if they ever do).

While gay religious marriage might be more complicated, the next 2 types of marriage are perfectly suitable for 2 men or 2 women - social and intra-couple. Marriage is a social took to create families. I can think of no good reason why 2 people of the same gender cannot be a family. Even without marriage, brothers, sisters, fathers and sons, mothers and daughters are all family. Of course some people make it an issue of offspring, but infertile couple can marry, so that can't really be an issue. The intra-couple form of marriage is simply when a couple wants to publicly declare their love and commitment to one another publicly. This is completely personal and no one outside of the couple really gets to have a say in the matter.

But of course all the logic in the world will not convince the extremely religious/conservative to tolerate (let's not even talk about accepting) someone else's values. But being anti-marriage equality is not going to make there be less homosexuals. It is just going to continue to treat homosexuals as second class citizens. And in the end, having a country which does not treat all its citizens equally, really is the destruction of the moral fiber of society.


64 comments:

  1. > I really don't expect Orthodox Judaism or the Catholic Church to start performing gay marriages (and I really don't care if they ever do).

    But I do think it's important to point out that progressive streams of Judaism (Reform, Reconstructionist, Secular Humanist) do not exclude gay people from religious marriage. By your mother's standards is it just Christians, Hindus etc. whose marriages are not real marriages? Or would all non-Orthodox Jewish weddings/marriages also fit into that category?

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  2. My favorite banner seen during the gay marriage debate said the following: "IF YOU DON'T LIKE GAY MARRIAGE, DON'T GET GAY MARRIED".

    I absolutely hate the response "but don't call it marriage". WHY? Because YOU get to define marriage? YOUR church? (in technical debate terminology) please GFY

    I think that banning gay marriage somehow makes people think there is less "gay" going on. No, seriously.

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    1. I believe that those that think homosexuality is a sin are afraid to say that gay marriage is OK is that they feel that that means they are condoning homosexuality. They cannot seem to understand that there will be gays no matter what, so might as well not treat them like second class citizens/human beings. I also find them some people think that it will make more people "chose" to be gay. But that is really really dumb paranoia.

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    2. I hope you keep reading and commenting! Thanks :-)

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    3. I saw that banner on the FDR, one of my favorites

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  3. "I explained that she already recognizes civil, Christian, Muslim, Hindu etc marriages which according to her belief system are not real marriages."

    I am fond of bringing up that point to frum Jews I know who are against gay marriage.

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    1. It's amazing how many religious have never even thought about that.

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    2. Also, thanks for reading my blog and commenting :-)

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  4. >"I explained that she already recognizes civil, Christian, Muslim, Hindu etc marriages which according to her belief system are not real marriages."

    Please explain!

    >But of course all the logic in the world will not convince the extremely religious/conservative to tolerate

    Because IMO it's not really about logic. It isn't even about logic on your end either. It's about values. Your side values the progressive movement to broaden the definition of marriage to include same sex. The other side values what humanity has always recognized a marriage to be, which is opposite sex. The idea of tolerance is non sequitur here since really, nobody tolerates everything. You put your boundary at a particular place, and they put their boundary at a particular place.

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    1. BTW, I know you are going to respond by saying "why should someone's values dictate X policy." That was not my point. My point was simply to comment on the fact that you think you are being logical, and they illogical.

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    2. No, my responce is going to be to explain why it is about tolerance. I dislike your value system but I I tolerate you having it and dont try and force my values on you. I don't expect you to want to have a gay marriage. But do not expect me not to want one. That is tolerance.
      And please point out where I was not logical? We live in a world with billions of people. It is illogical to assume that your value system should be accepted by all.

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  5. Really, I did not want to get into this but if you insist. EVERY society sets policies based on a certain number of values based on their own subjectivity. Age of consent vary from one nation to another. What some European country would call normal, you would call pedophilia. Why? We don't accept marriages between close blood relatives nor beastiliaty. Why? It's always primarily about values and then you retroactively try to "logically" defend it. Everyone on this planet fights for their values to be the winning "policy." As if the LGBT lobbying community does not wish to push their values to the public.

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    1. I would disagree with any society that pushes a value system on the public. That is a personal choice. What society/government does is protect people. But since once again you are comparing pedophilia and homosexuality, I really dont feel like arguing that point with you again. We simply won't agree, so why make each other upset.

      And as far as the LGBT lobby, I do not speak for them, nor am I a member of any such group. I do not push my values on anyone. You live however you feel is best for you. And I expect the same respect in return.

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    2. >But since once again you are comparing pedophilia and homosexuality

      No I didn't. Please read everything in context as opposed to you being emotionally charged.

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    3. >We simply won't agree, so why make each other upset.

      Let me correct that. You only care that YOU don't get upset. ;-)

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    4. No, not at all. I don't like when people are upset at me. Disagreement and debate are wonderful at the right time and right place. But if it just gets people upset, it is not worth it.

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    5. Well, for the record, you don't upset me. I rather enjoy your blog. And while we will never agree with each other, at the very least we can have clarity to each other's position

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  6. BTW I am curious to explain:

    ""I explained that she already recognizes civil, Christian, Muslim, Hindu etc marriages which according to her belief system are not real marriages.""

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    1. According to Jewish law, there is no marriage for non Jews. It is something that is just for Jews and it is done in a specific way. But religious Jews still consider their non Jewish married neighbors to be married despite their own value system.

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    2. I have never head of this. Are you referring to kiddushin? Cause I can understand our ritual of "kiddushin" being something primarily Jewish. So you are telling me, according to Judaism, a non-Jew can never wed another non-Jew in their own country in their own way?

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    3. Nope. However, the Gemara says that if a non Jewish man lives with a non Jewish woman, we should treat them as if they are married, but their is not status of "married" or "kiddushim" for non Jews.

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    4. Can you tell me what the reason the Gemera puts for this?

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    5. Its been a long time but if I remember correcty, it is because non Jews don't have the commandments to have children, or any of the "tahrat hamishpcha" (nida and the like). So there is simply no need for marriage. They can live by all 7 of their commandments without marriage.

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    6. LOL. It really is part of my over all problem with halachic driven Judaism. Everything is looked at through the prism of halalcha.

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    7. I just emailed a rabbi and he said we most definitely recognize non-Jewish marriage to each other. (not kiddushin). That also one of the noachide laws of sexual immorality consists of adultery which presupposes a marriage. Also, Noach was married.

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    8. What I wrote is that we treat them as if they are married but do not consider them married. And the nochide law he talks about is about sexual immorality. It says nothing about adultery. Some modern rabbis might extend it to that, but it makes little sense to see it as a "law against adultery".
      Are non Jews permitted to marry more than one woman according to the 7 laws? Doesn't say. If it was a law about marriage and adultery don't you think that at least that would be specified (considering Jews technically can marry more than one woman).

      They teach first graders that the law is against adultery so they dont have to explain to kids about bestiality and rape and the such. Your Rabbi gave you a simplified and convenient answer.

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    9. He said in black and white. Judaism considers them to be married. Not "as if" but that they can be married.

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    10. Based on what? What are his sources? What does it mean they are married? It really makes no sense. The only thing I can think of that might sorta make his point is that their is a halacha to except the laws of the land that you live in. But in that case if you live somewhere with gay marriage, than you would have to accept that and no orthodox rabbi would agree to that. so that cannot be his source.
      So I need more information than "the rabbi said so". As you can also tell from the comments here, I am hardly the only one to know this about halacha. I always thought it was common knowledge.

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    11. Further, there would have to be rules about such marriages, or reference to divorce in such marriages. Again the gemara says we treat a man and woman that are not Jewish that live together as if they are married. And should one move away, than as if they are divorced. But more than that I am not aware (and apparently many other orthodox/formerly orthodox Jews) any source.

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    12. >Based on what? What are his sources? What does it mean they are married?

      What does that mean they are NOT married? If Noach was married, how would they understand non-Jews NOT getting married? And from my understanding of what he told me, sexual immorality is not just against beastiality or homosexuality or incest but any of what the Torah considers sexual immorality....one of them being adultery.

      >Again the gemara says we treat a man and woman that are not Jewish that live together as if they are married.

      I have also heard the same about Jews. If two Jews are living for a long time together, the woman needs a get since they would be for all practical matters married.

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    13. What does it mean Noach was married? Married in Judaism mean kiddushin. There must be something similar for now Jews? Some sort of rules. But there is none. And just saying the law includes adultery is not enough. I need sources. Again, as I have learned, halcha says "As if they are married" and not that they are married. Sources please.

      And yes, the halacha is the same about Jews needing a get after living together is because people will assume that they slept together, which is a form of kiddushin in the right situation. None Jews do not have kiddushin and therefore this is not similar.

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    14. Ami, you are 100% right and hyrax dude is wrong. A great exmple is when a rav tries to find a heter for a mamzer, or anothe eishes ish problem, or gerushah to kohen, it is very common to declare that even though this person was "married" to another non jew, it is not considered marriage, therefore she is not an eishes ish or not a gerusha.

      HH, your rabbi is a bafoon.

      Further, to accept certain paramaters as HH does from other cultures as...."thats what they do and its different " is just pure BS. In this country of rmany years whites couldnt marry blacks.....therefore what? It was moral??? NO! So to here, we must stand and fight to allow gay marriage in our society, just as we fuaght for interratial marriage!

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    15. Thanks for chiming in Ksil. I dont know that HH's Rabbi is a bafoon, or just trying to be P.C.

      And of course I agree with your second point as well :)

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    16. A) My rabbi is not trying to be PC. Let alone, the logic behind your saying goyim can't get married (or us recognizing they can) does not seem to stand up. Perhaps you can say they have no CHIYUV, but how can you say they can't get married under their cultures and rules?

      B) Your equivalence of blacks to gays is just plain wrong for a very simple reason. Inter racial marriages have always existed. The laws that were created in colonial times and later in some states against it were the aberration to the norm, not the other way around. The fact that they passed a law to OUTLAW it, means it was done. This is the other way around, you are trying to legalized something that never existed. Whether you want it to change is one thing, but don't compare it to the history of inter racial marriage.

      c) The equivalence of blacks to gays is one of the reasons black community has shown anger toward the gay movement in trying to compare ACTUAL civil and moral infringements to what gays are going through with marriage. The fact of the matter is there is no differnence between a white man vs a black man. It's all just skin color. But there IS a difference between male vs female.....which is what marriage IS about. And here you have what I was talking to you Ami in the past about the left (in this case LGBT people) trying to little by little erase on distinctions between the male and female. To tell you the truth, this is where the battle ground is. Gay marriage is simply a symptom of this growing "hashkafa" from the left.

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    17. >as...."thats what they do and its different " is just pure BS.

      huh?

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    18. A. Goyim could do whatever they want under there own rules. It does mean that Halcah recognizes it.

      B. You've wrote this before and I have commented on it before. Just because something was one way does not make it right. FYL, in ancient Greece romance was more common between men. Marriage was just to have children.

      C. The "Gay movement"? What is that? Forget marriage for a second, do you think it is right that someone be fired because they are gay? because they are black? There is plenty of similarity between the two civil rights campaigns. And really, I can't even begin to describe how little I care if some black people think my demanding equal rights under the law is lessens their struggle. They should be less paranoid and help others attain equality under the law.
      It is not about trying to erase the distinction between men and women. If marriage was just about procreation than maybe you might sorta have a point. But being that infertile people and people that just don't want kids can get married, we know that is not the case. In TODAY'S society, marriage is about love. And what gays are saying is that our love is no different than straight love.

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    19. >A. Goyim could do whatever they want under there own rules. It does mean that Halcah recognizes it.

      I have been asking more and more rabbis and nobody understands where you are getting that halacha does not regognize a non-Jew getting married. Kedoshim, you are right, but recognition of marriage in general?

      >You've wrote this before and I have commented on it before. Just because something was one way does not make it right.

      It doesn't make it wrong either!

      >FYL, in ancient Greece romance was more common between men. Marriage was just to have children

      I believe, that you would find it more in the elitist circles of certain Greek states, not everywhere. But so what? I'm certainly not for outlawing gay love in general.

      >Forget marriage for a second

      No, I won't. Because that is ALL I am talking about. If you were discussing real persecution of what blacks went through, like Jim Crow, lynching and just plain out institutionalized injustice, than I would agree with you.

      >In TODAY'S society, marriage is about love. And what gays are saying is that our love is no different than straight love.

      The caveat being, IMO, is that it is about the love of the opposite sex (for a marriage). If it is only about love, than you are simply opening the door to every imaginable union that man can devise. At least you are consistent in that you have said government should allow whomever wants to get married, to get married.

      BTW, I just went on a job interview and one of the essay questions was my feelings about homosexuality :)

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    20. Than please ask your rabbis for the source. Where does halacha recognize non Jewish marriage? Marriage in halacha is Kidushin, which non Jews don't have. Im not saying we as Jews to not see them/treat/recognize non Jewss married. But where does halcaha recognize it?

      And if you follow my thought process through, since marriage is about love, than any 2 consenting adults that love each other should be allowed to be married. Since you think it is only about opposite gender love than we are stuck.
      But there is no real reason for you to think that way. "Just because it has always been that way" is not a good answer. Many things chance. And in most cases things improve.

      And, I am curious what kind of job needs to know that kind of info about a person. Either way I hope you got the job

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    21. >Marriage in halacha is Kidushin, which non Jews don't have.

      The caveat there is that marriage between JEWS is kidushin. From what I have been told, halacha certainly recognizes other people existing and their cultures marrying them off.

      >Since you think it is only about opposite gender love than we are stuck.

      Yes we are.

      >And, I am curious what kind of job needs to know that kind of info about a person. Either way I hope you got the job

      Well, i prefer not to say at this moment, but tackles, I said I don't give a crap if someone is gay to what the job pertains.

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    22. Again, I would ask these Rabbis (and you) what is the source? It makes no sense from anything I've ever learned and I can find no one, including religious friends of mine that understand what your rabbis are referring to.

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    23. Well, can't I ask you the same thing? What is the source that says Judaism does not recognize a marriage between two non-Jews? Not Kiddushin which is solely for Jews, but a regular marriage under their national rules.

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    24. No of course not. My whole point is that it isn't even discussed. I believe it is in Kidushin (I don't have the exact page) where it talks about treating a non Jewish man and woman that live together as if they are married. But at no time does is their any discussion that I am aware of about the recognition of a non Jewish marriage ceremony having any significance. You are claiming that halacha does go out of its way to recognize something. You need to give me a source.

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  7. I am glad I don't upset you. And I am also very glad you enjoy my blog. I hope that all are iterations are positive

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  8. I’ll add the same 2 cents, I have been arguing forever. Marriage implies tax and pension benefits for the couple generally NOT available to others. This is unreasonable and discriminatory. ALL marriages not involving children should simply not be recognized as such, period. Gay or otherwise.

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  9. Thanks for your comment elemir.
    To be honest, my opion is government shouldn't be in the marriage business at all. Its a religious/emotional/personal field. Government can have civil unions between adults for tax purposes, str8, gay or otherwise. However, as long as government is involved in marriages, they must so so fairly.

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    1. OK, but why should there be any tax or pension benefits (aside from when children are involved) just because two people decide to live in the same space.

      you say fairly, my friend wants to "marry" his sister for tax purposes. would you support that?

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    2. The thought behind it is that 2 people that are married will have shared expenses (house, cars etc) and therefore should be allowed to be taxed as a unit. If 2 sisters live together and have shared expenses, I can think of no good reason why they should be allowed to follow jointly.

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  10. You're quite right that there are plenty of marriages that halacha does not recognize. Would your mother like to see the United States regulate the ability of a Jew to get married to a non-Jew, or a mamzer, or ban marriages between a Kohen and convert?

    Ironically, I remember discussing in law school that Israel was slightly ahead of the curve on extending same-sex benefits because marriage was under total religious control and therefore so many couples couldn't get married for religious reasons and lived common-law.

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    1. That is true about Israel. But another thing about Israel is that it will recognize any marriage done legally abroad.

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  11. Yes, an interesting spin-off of Canada legalizing same-sex marriages was that it allowed same-sex couples in Israel to get married by having the ceremony in Canada.

    What was the reaction in Israel? It seems to me that there hasn't been the sky-is-falling type of reaction that is seen in the US, in part because the state was already foreign ceremonies to recognize "treife" marriages, and there's not much difference in halacha between a marriage between a regular Jew and a Jewish mamzer and a marriage between two people of the same gender.

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    1. Yes very true. The people that are upset about that are the same that would be upset about a Jew and a non Jew. And actually they are much more upset about the lather and therefore that gets all the headlines.

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  12. >>> I can think of no good reason why they should be allowed to follow jointly.

    i think you meant file jointly. because you demand fairness and fairnss should include any 2 people wishing to be married.

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    1. I am sorry my comment was not clear and full of typos. I mean, they should be allowed to file to jointly.

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  13. from HH, "there is no differnence between a man vs a woman. It's all just penis/vagina. But there IS a difference between black vs white"

    oops, i mean...."there is no differnence between a white man vs a black man. It's all just skin color. But there IS a difference between male vs female"

    one of the dumbest things HH ever said, and that is saying something!

    LOL

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    1. worthless as usual ksil. At least you are consistent.

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    2. tell me, oh great one who came back from being frum, then became not frum then back frum, which gives you SO much more credibility then any of us worthless dummies....what IS the difference between men and women, in that great mind of yours!?!??!

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    3. The question is so fallacious. You really think males and females think alike? Treat one another alike? Our core personalities and our make up is so different. Females are much more of the nurturers then males. The way we try to solve problems. The way we express our sexuality and yearnings are much different. Look at the way boys play together vs the way girls play together. It goes on. Your problem is the problem so many other OTD charadis have. They have been so brainwashed in their little insular existence, that anything that smacks of conservativism sets of knee jerk reaction to the other end of the liberal spectrum, without even seeing if there really is truth in the "old" claims.

      I think this is a great article showing the areas where feminism failed, basically in their acknowledgement of the differences between males and females and how that affects societies in the past and present.

      http://www.psy.fsu.edu/~baumeistertice/goodaboutmen.htm

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    4. I mean, seriously Ksil, putting aside all your asshole-like qualities for a moment, you really think that other than a penis and vagina, there are no differences? That we are basically hardwired the same?

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  14. I guess you didnt understand my question! Oh well.....of course there are differences, just as there are differences between blacks, whites, hispanics, asians, indians, africans, the french, german, ppolish, norweigian, australian in the way they solve problems and the way they express love and their yearnings and and and and and .....are they hardwired the same?

    As far as your asshole comment, par for the course...take one to know one

    I''m brainwashed,....i love that one, thats my favorite dumb quote from you now

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    1. >I guess you didnt understand my question

      Yes I did, and if you are implying that just as cultural differences account for differences between germans and australians therefore they too account for the differences between hardwiring of males and females in general, than I guess there is nothing else to say, but you are plain wrong.

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  15. Indeed... it was the same for me. This article was really excellent for all of us. transgender dating site

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