November 29, 2022 - In response to Senate passage of the Respect for Marriage Act, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, Rabbi Hara Person, Chief Executive Officer of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Rabbi Marla J. Feldman, Executive Director of Women of Reform Judaism, Cantor Seth Warner, President of the American Conference of Cantors, Steven Portnoy, Executive Director of Men of Reform Judaism, and Noa Apple, North American President of NFTY released the following statement:
Rabbi Rick Jacobs: "We celebrate the bipartisan Senate passage of the Respect for Marriage Act, a historic bill that protects marriage equality for same-sex and interracial couples. The recent decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization signaled the Supreme Court’s willingness to overturn fundamental rights and underscored the need for Congress to take additional action to preserve marriage equality. By formally repealing the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, explicitly requiring the federal government to recognize same-sex and interracial marriage, and guaranteeing that states honor full faith and credit for marriages performed in other states, the Respect for Marriage Act safeguards marriage equality to the greatest extent possible under federal law."
Rabbi Hara Person: "Judaism teaches that all people are created b'tzelem Elohim (in the image of God) and deserve dignity and respect (Genesis 1:27). Recognizing that nobody should face discrimination due to their identity or who they love, the Reform Jewish Movement has long supported marriage equality, and our clergy regularly perform same-sex and interracial marriages. This view is consistent with the majority of people in the United States – including majorities in all major faith groups, political parties, and states – who support marriage equality and LGBTQ+ nondiscrimination protections."
Rabbi Jonah Pesner: "Even as we celebrate this victory, we recognize that LGBTQ+ people (especially transgender and gender-expansive people, young people, People of Color, and those who live at the intersection of these identities) continue to face discrimination and harassment. In 2022, state legislatures have introduced over 300 anti-LGBTQ+ bills, and many states still lack LGBTQ+ nondiscrimination protections. We urge leaders at all levels of government to build upon this historic achievement by passing the Equality Act and protecting and expanding LGBTQ+ rights nationwide."
Rabbi Marla J. Feldman: "Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ) joins with others in the Reform Movement in applauding the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act. Love transcends gender and race, and the right to marry is a fundamental right. We are relieved that the right to marry is now secure, irrespective of one’s gender identity or race. Even while we celebrate this victory, WRJ will continue to fight to protect other fundamental rights that are currently being challenged, including the right to reproductive and gender-affirming healthcare and the right to bodily autonomy."
Cantor Seth Warner: "Members of the American Conference of Cantors applaud the U.S. Senate for passing the Respect for Marriage Act, formally codifying same-sex and interracial marriage for all Americans. As our colleague Cantor Jason Kaufman said recently, ‘LGBTQ+ Americans have fought and died in the pursuit of equal rights in this country.’ It is important that everyone has the right to marry who they love, regardless of sexual orientation or race."
Steven Portnoy: "Men of Reform Judaism congratulates the Senate on passing the Respect for Marriage Act. This legislation will ensure that LGBTQ+ and interracial couples are respected and protected equally under federal law when it comes to marriage. Importantly, the Respect for Marriage Act also recognizes the diversity of faith beliefs when it comes to same sex marriage and ensures no faith will be required to sanctify a marriage that does not align with its teachings. When it comes to civil law, all couples deserve the dignity and stability the act provides."
Noa Apple: "We are extremely thankful for the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act. Federal support for same-sex and interracial marriages is affirming to those couples and brings hope that the government will continue to make strides in protecting civil rights. More needs to be done to ensure everyone has choice and autonomy over their lives and identities. One of NFTY’s guiding principles is tikkun middot, the understanding that we are to be a light unto the nations by fostering an environment where every individual can meet and exceed their potential as Jews and people. Therefore, we recommit ourselves to advocate for all people to live and love as their full selves, and advocate for the passage of the Equality Act and the expansion of LGBTQ+ rights on the local, state, and federal level."
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose 850 congregations across North America encompass 1.8 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 2,000 Reform rabbis. Visit RAC.org for more.
The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) represents a vibrant network of nearly 850 Reform synagogues across North America, which foster serious Jewish learning, sacred community, and prophetic justice. As the central address for this congregational network, the URJ speaks on behalf of the entire Reform Movement on a wide range of topics ranging from Jewish observance and ritual, community relations, social justice and much more.
Visit www.URJ.org for more.