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Reform Jewish Leader Expresses Disappointment in the Widespread Defense of Senator Santorum's Intolerant Remarks

Pelavin: [T]his display of intolerance…should be promptly condemned by all who cherish equality.

Alexis Rice or Matthew Soffer 202-387-2800

WASHINGTON, April 29, 2003 - In response to Senator Rick Santorum's recent remarks directly comparing consensual sexual behavior between members of the same sex to bigamy, polygamy, incest, and adultery, Mark J. Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, released the following statement:

Senator Rick Santorum's recent remarks equating same-sex relations with polygamy, bigamy, adultery, and incest are, of course, abhorrent. The fact that we have worked with Senator Santorum on a variety of issues, especially religious liberty, makes this display of intolerance all the more disappointing, and it should be promptly condemned by all who cherish equality.

Equally troubling is the reaction Senator Santorum's comments have drawn. In sharp contrast to the response to Senator Trent Lott's statements praising the 1948 pro-segregation presidential platform, from which the White House and responsible public leaders appropriately distanced themselves, too many national leaders have sought to defend or justify Senator Santorum's remarks.

The fact that Senator Santorum used these remarks to justify legal restrictions on the rights of gay men and lesbians to privacy and equality calls for a very clear response. In particular, we would hope that the White House and Congressional leaders would make clear that we are long past the time when such laws would be acceptable.

What lesson can we learn from this ugly episode? While it is politically impermissible to have been in favor of segregation a generation ago, it is apparently within the political mainstream today to hold views that vilify gay men and lesbians and justify legal restrictions on their rights. This is unacceptable. The reaction to Senator Santorum should serve to remind us of how far we have yet to go.


The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC) , whose over 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews , and the Central Conference of American Rabbis(CCAR) whose membership includes over 1800 Reform rabbis .

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