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Washington, D.C., June 26 2015 – In response to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
“Today the Supreme Court affirmed what has been clear for a long time: same-sex couples deserve the same rights as opposite-sex couples. This historic ruling by the Supreme Court will ensure that the relationships of same-sex couples are recognized no matter where they live. It grants them the same rights, benefits and responsibilities that their straight married counterparts have long enjoyed. Today’s ruling, however, is about more than just state recognition and marriage benefits; it is about affirming the inherent dignity of same-sex couples and affirming that all people, regardless of whom they love, deserve the full protection of our Constitution. For all of these reasons, the URJ, CCAR and WRJ were pleased to join amici briefs to the Court urging the result that has been realized today.
The Reform Jewish Movement has long understood that LGBT people are, like all human beings, created b’tzelem Elohim, in the Divine image (Genesis 1:27). As a Rabbi, I have had the pleasure of officiating the weddings of same-sex couples. It brings me great joy to know that the same-sex couples that I wed will now have the security and dignity that comes with legal recognition of their marriages everywhere in the United States.
Although today’s ruling is truly a cause for celebration, there is still much more to be done to ensure full LGBT equality. No federal law explicitly prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Many same-sex couples who can now legally wed in their state still have to hide their marriage at work since without prohibitions on employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, simply putting a wedding photo on their office desk could legally result in their being fired. Representative David Cicilline and Senator Jeff Merkley have both announced their intention to introduce a comprehensive LGBT Non-discrimination bill this Congress that would address this injustice by banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. In the wake of today’s historic ruling by the Supreme Court, Congress must act quickly to ensure that all LGBT people are afforded the same non-discrimination protections as other marginalized groups. For today, however, we celebrate this remarkable milestone for LGBT Americans and in the ongoing struggle for civil rights for all.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose nearly 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 2,000 Reform rabbis. Visit www.rac.org for more.