Gay, Jewish, and happy

Judge Walker of California overturned Prop 8!

The fight’s not over, but I (and lots of other people) are still awfully happy about this step.

Anyway, that’s just an intro to a post that I was writing already. About equality and religion.

Because religion always comes into it. Because even though I probably shouldn’t have been surprised, I was. I was surprised that in response to my post of signs from the National March for Equality, people started talking about Christianity.

As I said in one of my comments on that thread, I’m Jewish. I don’t think about Christianity all that often unless something prompts me to. Christianity doesn’t really govern my day-to-day life (except that I get Christmas and Good Friday off from work but have to take personal days for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur). More to the point, Christianity doesn’t govern my morals or principles. It’s just not relevant to me.

But lots of people in this country of ours are Christians, and many of those are devout believers for whom the religion does govern their morals. Fine. Let them be happy and healthy in their Christian lives. I’m all about people living their lives the way they want to. But what does that have to do with me, I wanted to ask?

Nothing, really. But some people can’t seem to separate their perspective from the idea of absolute truth. So they tell me my “behavior is sinful, wrong and will one day be judged.” Sigh.

So I asked another question: what does my own religion say about my gay-itude?

When I was still in high school, before I had a clue that I was gay and years before I came out, my rabbi gave a sermon on gay rights. And he didn’t hide his sermon on a small Shabbat service with forty attendees. He saved it up for the High Holy Days, those holidays that bring in all the twice-a-year Jews, so that he could tell my entire congregation – hundreds and hundreds of people – how important it was to welcome gay people into the Jewish community. This was in the mid-’90s, when Don’t Ask Don’t Tell came into law and most people weren’t speaking out that loudly.

I heart my rabbi and his longstanding support of my peeps.

In 1977, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (now known as the Union for Reform Judaism, and the body to which my home synagogue belongs) issued the following statement to the 45th General Assembly in San Francisco:

WHEREAS the UAHC has consistently supported civil rights and civil liberties for all persons and

WHEREAS the Constitution guarantees civil rights to all individuals,

BE IT, THEREFORE, RESOLVED THAT homosexual persons are entitled to equal protection under the law. We oppose discriminating against homosexuals in areas of opportunity, including employment and housing. We call upon our society to see that such protection is provided in actuality.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT we affirm our belief that private sexual acts between consenting adults are not the proper province of government and law enforcement agencies.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT we urge congregations to conduct appropriate educational programming for youth and adults so as to provide a greater understanding of the relation of Jewish values to the range of human sexuality.

1977! Before I was even born, my future self was told that I am entitled to equal protection under the law. And so I should be – but entitled does not mean empowered, and so I still wait for my equal protections.

We’ve come a long way. Discrimination against gay people in many areas is now illegal. (I say “gay” and not, for example, “lgbt” because trans people weren’t included in that original UAHC declaration and still have many more areas in which to gain protection.) I’m lucky enough to live in a state where I can’t be fired from my job for being gay. I can’t be kicked out of my cute little apartment or refused a mortgage. But if I were to marry a girl in my home state, our marriage wouldn’t be recognized federally, and a long list of rights of crashing importance would not be ours.

There are more branches of Judaism, and I’m not ignoring them. Stay tuned for more, since I’ve found out some nifty stuff about Conservative and Orthodox Judaism.


Filed under politics

3 responses to “Gay, Jewish, and happy

  1. *sigh* “But some people can’t seem to separate their perspective from the idea of absolute truth.” I’m not sure it could be put more frankly or eloquently than you’ve expressed. Thank you for the insight into Judaism. Though many of us cannot be there in person to help you fight your fight, we are surely there in mind and spirit…It’s a step. I know there will be fights for a long time to come over the turn-over, but here’s to hoping our small steps forward long outweigh our steps backward.

  2. I was raised Jewish, and although I choose to no longer keep the faith, I feel incredibly lucky to have been raised in a religion that is so accepting. Go Jews.

  3. T.

    The Chistians, especially the Evangelical/Fundamentalist sort are no different from any other radical religious sect – they preach about god’s love but wrap their whole dogma in judgement, hatred, and discrimination.

    I grew up in the rural South and have had more than my share of run-ins with the “snake handling” Baptists who, btw believe that almost everyone is going to hell for one reason or another…..anyone not their brand of christian, Jews, anyone not white, yankees ( northerners…not the team – although maybe), gays, men with beards, people who dance, anyone who drinks alcohol, etc.

    The really horrible part about the religous fanatics is that, because of their hook up with the conservative political parties and, in turn, the corporations that fund those parties, they have become scary powerful in this country.

    The more mainstream religious organizations speak out – the better and I am thankful for organizations like the Jews and Unitarians – being raised Irish Catholic, sane voices in religion seem like hearing voices from Mars.

    People need to hear voices of reason in this wilderness of lies, manipulations, and scare tactics but i’m concerned that they and we are outnumbered and the “enemy” has bigger guns.

    My apologies for being long-winded but its your fault for posting such a thoughtful essay.

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