By: Rabbi Peter Rigler of Temple Sholom in Broomall, PA
As a Rabbi, I believe that we need to recognize the sanctity in same sex marriages and monogamous relationships in the strongest possible way. The key issue in the sanctity of a relationship is a commitment to exclusivity and to elevating the relationship to a state of kedusha, holiness. When two individuals arrive at that point in their relationship when they have felt the bonds of love, they deserve a place under the chuppah in the presence of a rabbi and in the presence of community to celebrate that love. The joy they share will, we hope, help them build their home together in the way of our tradition, as a place of exclusivity, of ahava v’achva, shalom v’reut: love and harmony, peace and companionship. As Jews we have known discrimination and hatred. How can we do anything but open our hearts and minds to help others who seek true freedom?
As a country, we still have a long way to go toward getting our laws to reflect the principle that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is unjust and unfair. In many parts of the world, gays and lesbians fear for their very lives due to legal regimes and social environments in which homosexuality is criminalized and demonized. In the United States, it’s been only about ten years since the United States Supreme Court invalidated state and federal laws that purported to make homosexual behavior a crime. And it’s only been one year since the discriminatory “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” regime in the U.S. military was ended.
This week, we have seen some more states finally stand up…I think it is now our turn! How taken I was with the results this week. As I tried to sleep the night after the results I kept thinking about those in our state (Pennsylvania) who are denied basic rights based on sexual orientation. It is time, we need to make this issue one that is debated in our state, not an issue that is ignored with people saying, “Forget it Pennsylvania will never do it!” This is UNACCEPTABLE! We need to demand more of our state…Please join and support the struggle. Join the movement for change!
Alex Kress, a first year HUC-JIR student, and I started a Facebook page in an effort to gather voices who support Marriage Equality. We have already seen a wonderful showing of support! We are in the process of trying to grow so please join and support us. We welcome advice from other states that have mobilized successfully around this issue and look forward to partnering with Jews across Pennsylvania to move closer toward marriage equality for all!
Rabbi Peter Rigler currently serves as the Rabbi of Temple Sholom in Broomall. He was ordained by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 2002. He served previously for seven years as the Associate Rabbi at Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel of Elkins Park, PA.