Gov. Paterson's announcement is a significant and welcome recognition of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals' right to share in the personal and legal privileges of civil marriage afforded heterosexual Americans.
Washington D.C. May 30, 2008 - In response to the directive issued yesterday by New York Governor David Paterson recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions, Mark J. Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Rabbi Eric B. Stark, Director of the Union for Reform Judaism's Greater New York Council, and Arleen Urell, Chair of Reform Jewish Voice of New York State, issued the following statement:
We applaud Gov. Paterson's directive to New York state agencies to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions. This important step, especially when viewed in conjunction with the California Supreme Court's recent decision striking down of the state's ban on same sex marriage, makes clear that states are now at the forefront of the effort to achieve marriage equality.
Gov. Paterson's announcement is a significant and welcome recognition of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals' right to share in the personal and legal privileges of civil marriage afforded heterosexual Americans. The directive reflects the important belief on which this country was founded - that all people deserve equal treatment under the law. We celebrate Gov. Paterson's historic decision and strongly encourage the New York legislature to take the necessary steps toward legalizing same-sex marriage.
As Jews, we are taught that God created humans b'tselem elohim, in the Divine image. As such, all people are deserving of respect and dignity and should be treated equally under the law, regardless of sexual orientation. For too long, our nation's laws have reflected narrow views of marriage, limiting which couples have their commitment and love sanctioned by the state. Those days are waning.
Whether through legislative means, judicial decisions, or executive directives, the day when Americans will be equally afforded the rights and responsibilities of civil marriage is drawing near. Our Movement will continue to support efforts to hasten that day, and promote tolerance and respect of all individuals.