Pelavin: “We believe the law should treat each individual equally, affording every American the same rights and responsibilities, including the right to civil marriage.”
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WASHINGTON, D.C., Jan. 13, 2009 – The Union for Reform Judaism today joined with other civil rights and faith organizations to file an amicus brief challenging Proposition 8, the recently passed California ballot initiative that seeks to overturn that state’s right to marriage equality. Mark Pelavin, associate director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
We are proud to join with this important challenge to Proposition 8. We do so because we believe the law should treat each individual equally, affording every American the same rights and responsibilities, including the right to civil marriage. Over the past several years, through court orders, executive action, and legislation, states across the country are increasingly ensuring the right to marriage equality. Proposition 8 is a step in the wrong direction.
We recognize, as well, that the religious beliefs of people who oppose same-sex marriages should be respected; no clergy member or house of worship should ever be forced, under law, to sanctify a religious wedding that goes against his or her religious tenets. And those religious institutions and clergy that wish to welcome and affirm same-sex unions must also be respected and protected.
The Reform Movement is proud of its role as a leading voice in the faith community for the expansion of civil rights. By joining this brief, we reaffirm our commitment, as Jews and as Americans, to bring about the day when no one will face discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or religious conviction.
Rabbi Linda Bertenthal, senior associate director of the Union for Reform Judaism’s Pacific South West Council and co-acting director of its Pacific Central West Council, both representing regions of California, noted:
Our California congregations and our Pacific South West and Pacific Central West Councils have been at the forefront of opposition to Proposition 8. The Reform Jewish Movement understands that Proposition 8 strikes at two of our most sacred American principles – religious freedom and equality under the law. It is also an affront Judaism's most fundamental premise about humanity – that we are all equally created in the image of God and entitled to equality and dignity.
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 1,800 Reform rabbis.