WASHINGTON, May 15, 2008 – In response to today’s ruling by the California Supreme Judicial Court declaring the state’s ban on gay marriage unconstitutional, Mark J. Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and Rabbi Alan Henkin, Regional Director of the Union for Reform Judaism’s Pacific Southwest Council, issued the following statement:
Today’s ruling is a landmark step toward ensuring the right of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans to share in the joys and privileges of marriage that have long been afforded to heterosexual couples. As the Court rightly noted, “An individual’s capacity to establish a loving and long-term committed relationship with another person and responsibly to care for and raise children does not depend upon the individual’s sexual orientation,” and that “an individual’s sexual orientation – like a person’s race or gender – does not constitute a legitimate basis upon which to deny or withhold legal rights.”
Much like the 2003 decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, today’s ruling serves as affirmation that we cannot allow our nation to continue to divide into separate and decidedly unequal groups: those adults who are free to express their love for one another in marriage and those who are not.
The Reform Jewish Movement has long been committed to welcoming GLBT Jews into our congregations, synagogues and communal life and strongly supports legislative efforts to provide equal opportunity through civil marriage for gay and lesbian individuals. As we teach our children, all individuals are created b’tselem elohim, in the image of the Divine; today’s ruling reflects that concept of inherent equality.
This is a historic day, a day to celebrate. Tomorrow, however, is the day to begin organizing against the all-but-inevitable initiatives to amend the state’s constitution to ban same-sex marriage equality. As soon as we finish today’s victory toast, we are ready to roll up our sleeves and get to work.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 1800 Reform rabbis.