WASHINGTON, May 15, 1996 -- Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Reform Jewish movement's Religious Action Center, today testified against H.R. 3396, an act allowing states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages, calling it "ill-advised," "unconstitutional," and "unnecessary." Saperstein, both a rabbi and attorney, served as a witness before the Constitution Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee.
In his testimony before the subcommittee, Saperstein ridiculed the notion that same-sex marriages were a threat to family values. He asked: "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 love between two adults of the same sex?"
Rabbi Saperstein also challenged the intent of the legislation's proponents. Under the guise of protecting the institution of marriage, Saperstein asserted, the bill is a political maneuver that if enacted would "shatter the Constitution's protections of states' rights and invalidate civil marriages of comitted, loving adult couples simply because they happen to be of the same sex." He also told the committee, "whether it is your intent or not, this bill will surely turn out to be about gay bashing and scapegoating."
"We all know that this is not an issue of overwhelming importance to our country," Saperstein said. "Does anyone in this room doubt that if we left the dignified solemnity of this room and ventured onto the streets...to ask people what most troubles them, very few, if any, would say same-sex civil marriage."
Saperstein, who teaches advanced Constitutional Law at Georgetown University Law Center, also identified the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act" as unconstitutional for its "violation of the Full Faith and Credit clause and for its denigration of states' rights as protected in the Tenth Amendment."
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, representing 1.5 million Reform Jews in 850 congregations throughout North America.