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Statement of Rabbi David Saperstein, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism at Press Conference Denouncing the Introduction of the Federal Marriage Amendment

National Press Club
Washington, D.C.
May 15, 2002

Contact: Alexis Rice or Dan Kaufman 202-387-2800

I would like to begin by thanking the Human Rights Campaign for its leadership on this issue. Elizabeth Birch and the staff of HRC have played and will continue to play a historic role in ensuring equal rights for gays and lesbians. Their passion is an inspiration to us all.

The fight for equality is uniquely tied to the history of this nation. From the suffrage movement to the civil rights movement to the gay rights movement minorities in this country have worked tirelessly to achieve equal rights as guaranteed to them by the founding vision of the United States. As long as injustice remains pervasive within our community, we will continue this fight for equality until our dream of equal rights for all is realized.

It is this history and this sense of morality that compels me to condemn the introduction of the Federal Marriage Amendment, a thinly veiled attempt to codify homophobia. We cannot push a sizable minority of our nation's population to the periphery. We cannot send the message that gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender individuals are second-class citizens, undeserving of legal protections, benefits and equal rights.

This Amendment is not about protecting families. Certainly my family will not be hurt by giving states the freedom to recognize the committed relationship of two loving adults. How can two loving adults coming together to form a family harm family values? Are our families and marriages and communities so fragile and shallow that they are threatened by the love between two adults of the same sex? This bill is about targeting scapegoats; and as a people who have been the quintessential scapegoats of Western civilization; we stand with our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters saying that this bill is immoral and unjust.

This proposed amendment is a stain on America's promise of equal rights to all. We call on all Members of Congress to ensure that such an effort to enshrine homophobia, intolerance, and inequality in our Constitution and our law fails-and does so by an overwhelming margin.

We are all God's children. We are all one people. Let us stop issuing decrees of hatred and begin enacting legislation and implementing policies that will foster healthy, loving, caring, and committed relationships and ensure that in this nation, none will ever again be discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation or sexual identity.

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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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