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Mama Deb
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Mama Deb [userpic]
Rant #1: Gay Marriage and Orthodox Judaism

Here's the thing about marriage in general - there are two components to it - a religious aspect and a civil aspect. Actually, Jewish marriages are more "legal" than they are religious, but the laws are part of the religion, so it gets confusing.

Orthodox Judaism forbids any number of marriages - divorced women and Kohanim (the priestly caste), converts and Kohanim, second marriages for a husband and wife where the wife had another husband in between. Jews and nonJews. These are the laws of the religion, and I have no problems with that - I feel for the people who can't get married under Jewish law. I especially feel for Kohanim who realize after the divorce that it was a mistake, because a Kohen can't even marry his own divorcee. But these are the laws and Gd has reasons for them, and I don't have to like them.

All of these marriages are permitted under US civil law, and I wouldn't want it any other way. Civil marriage is a contract - a shortcut for a huge number of rights and benefits, such as inheritance, medical decisions and property rights. There are so many of these that it's impossible to duplicate them any other way and all those duplications that can be done can also be challenged by family. And none of these have anything to do with religion. Yes, the Jewish ketubah details some of these, but it's a decidedly one-sided documents (all the rights are the woman's, all the responsibilities are the husband's.) and it just shows how much civil law there is in Judaism. It's also irrelevent.

There is no reason under civil law why marriages should be restricted to heterosexual couples, or couples at all. I can't seeing it destroying the fabric of our nation if three people decide to make a legal commitment to each other. This would not require Jewish law, or Catholic law, or any Protestant church, to recognize these marriages. There are already marriages that the first two do not recognize, such as the ones I've listed above.

What makes the whole thing a marriage, so far as I'm concerned, is that there should be a couple of hoops to enter it - a license, at the very least - and many, many hoops to dissolve it. There should be thought in both entering it and leaving it, but it should be possible to leave it.

No one will ever compell a religion to recognize a marriage that goes against its principles, and that's fine. It has nothing to do with civil marriage.


I agree wholeheartedly. I think the only argument against gay marriage is one that is based in a religious definition of who that religion will identify as a marriageable couple (or group). I don't think that our government has any business using a religious argument for denying civil rights to a group of people. That is discrimination and violates our constitution.
Many people then fall back on the reproductive argument to deny marriage rights to gays and other types of relationships. However, there are many married couples who cannot or do not want to reproduce. My husband and I have been married for over a decade and have intentionally chosen not to have kids. Does that make our marriage invalid? I shouldn't think so. Should we deny the rights of menopausal women to marry? That, again, would be discrimination based on age. So, we are therefore cannot use reproduction as the basis to deny marriage rights.
That leaves very little left to deny gay marriage, other than sheer prejudice. Not exactly what I think this country should be basing its laws on.
There is an argument to remove the government from the marriage business, but that does raise the question of how to protect the legal rights that married couples (and their children) now enjoy. I think those rights are important. Instead of limiting a couple's access to those rights, we should be finding a different way to grant them to all.
I know of heterosexual couples, who are not sexually or romantically involved, but share every other thing in common with a "family". I see no reason why they should not be accorded the same rights as a married couple, either. I don think that it is in the best interests of everyone in this country to figure out a way to legalize the idea of domestic partnership and keep the government out of our bedrooms and romantic lives, as well as to keep it from making religious decisions for us.

The reproduction thing drives me nuts - I'm infertile myself. Does it make my marriage less valid because we can't have biological children? Of course not. I could have gone to a wedding on Monday where the bride - a first time bride - was postmenopausal. And good for her. She should still have many happy years with her husband.

And, honestly, I don't see any reason why the partners should necessarily be sexually involved. There are marriages - legal marriages - where that doesn't happen. So, you know, why assume? Consumation is also a religious thing.

I like separation of church and state. I really do.