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Reform Jewish Leader Commends Boston JCRC's Statement in Support of Same-Sex Marriage; Condemns Comments Equating Same-Sex Relationships With Bestiality

Saperstein: That a rabbi would… demean[ing] the committed and loving relationships that many people share, is not only irresponsible and hurtful, but wrong.

Contact:Alexis Rice or Beth Kalisch
202.387.2800

WASHINGTON, January 20, 2004 - In response to the Community Relations Council of Greater Boston's historic statement in support of same-sex marriage, and Rabbi Chaim Schwartz's mean-spirited and demeaning comments equating same-sex relationships with bestiality, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, released the following statement:

week, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston made a historic statement, urging the Massachusetts state government to enact legislation providing for same-sex marriage, in accordance with the recent ruling of the state Supreme Judicial Court in the Goodridge case. In doing so, the Community Relations Council wrestled with one of the most difficult issues facing American Jews - how to reconcile our fundamental commitment to equality with other portions of our written tradition that would seem to contradict this principle. The Reform Jewish Movement has clearly stated its support for committed monogamous partners to have the right to marry, regardless of their gender. By all accounts, though the debate was lively, the community's dedication to mutual respect for the differing perspectives present in pluralism shone through. We strongly commend this statement.

In this context, the statements by Rabbi Chaim Schwartz to the Boston Globe, equating same-sex relationships with bestiality, were particularly mean-spirited and demeaning. While we respect Rabbi Schwartz's right to interpret tradition, that a rabbi would equate two such fundamentally different things, thereby demeaning the committed and loving relationships that many people share, is not only irresponsible and hurtful, but wrong.

A little less than a year ago, Senator Rick Santorum made a similar remark equating consensual sexual behavior between members of the same sex to bigamy, polygamy, incest, and adultery. We say now what we said then, that "this display of intolerance…should be promptly condemned by all who cherish equality."

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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(CCAR) whose membership includes more than 1800 Reform rabbis .



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