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Reform Jewish Movement Applauds Massachusetts' Court Historic Ruling on Same Sex Marriage

Pelavin: As the Court's opinion makes clear, a wide array of rights and privileges flow from civil marriage. Today's decision is a powerful, and welcome, affirmation that people should not be excluded from such benefits based solely on their sexual orientation.


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Alexis Rice or Beth Kalisch 202.387.2800

WASHINGTON, November 18, 2003 - In response to today's ruling by the Massachusetts' Supreme Judicial Court declaring the state's ban on gay marriage unconstitutional, Mark J. Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

Today's ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court is a landmark step toward ensuring the right of gay and lesbian Americans to share in the joys, and privileges, of marriage afforded heterosexual Americans. As the Court rightly noted, "Whether and whom to marry, how to express sexual intimacy, and whether and how to establish a family - these are among the most basic of every individual's liberty and due process rights." These rights belong to same sex couples just as much as to heterosexual couples.

Today's decision is also an important affirmation of continuing vitality of the institution of marriage. As the Court itself recognized, today's decision "marks a significant change in the definition of marriage as it has been inherited from the common law…. But it does not disturb the fundamental value of marriage in our society."

The Court's decision is a recognition that we cannot allow our nation to continue to be segregated into separate and decidedly unequal groups: those adults who are free to express their love for one another in marriage and those adults who are not. As the Court's opinion makes clear, a wide array of rights and privileges flow from civil marriage. Today's decision is a powerful, and welcome, affirmation that people should not be excluded from such benefits based solely on their sexual orientation.

The Reform Jewish Movement has long been committed to welcoming gay and lesbian Jews into our congregations, synagogues and communal life and strongly supports legislative efforts to provide equal opportunity through civil marriage for gay and lesbian individuals.

We applaud the Court's historic ruling and call on the Massachusetts legislature to comply with 180-day time frame established by the Court to change state law and allow gay and lesbian couples to marry.

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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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