Gay Marriage and Judaism

Gay, Schmay, Just don't be alone! These were the words of my Jewish Grandmother when I told her I was gay. Her words are embedded in my soul. But her acceptance of both of my spirits are not shared these days by others. Being both Jewish and Gay and I feel attacked from both sides. The President of the United States says that discrimination against the legitimacy of my marriage to my partner should be written into the constitution, and the movie "The Passion of the Christ" is implying that my people killed Christ.

Yes I said "my marriage". My partner and I are married under the laws of Reform Judaism which recognizes same-sex marriage and we were married by a Rabbi. While it is not "legal" it is "religious".

A quote from President Bush is that he is "interested in protecting the "sanctity of marriage". My dictionary defines sanctity as the quality of being holy. But our marriage is somehow not considered "holy" enough by some. And therefore it does not deserve to be part of the group that the phrase "sanctity of marriage" is meant to represent and protect. How can a religious ceremony conducted by a religious officiate not be considered traditional and holy?

If the arguments used against same-sex marriage were purely legal this would not be a factor. But again and again the religious aspects are brought in, but only those that meet certain criteria. This is unfair and a violation of freedom of religion. In some cases, as ours above, we seem to be discriminated against twice. Once for being gay, second for being a part of a gay friendly religion that values us.

Now I find myself in the position of not only being part of the group who is trying to destroy the sanctity of marriage; but I am also part of a people responsible for the death of Christ. And this was brought home very clearly as the news media covered both stories at the same time.

But there are always positives to be found, even at the worst of times. As those speaking against marriage talk about how marriage should be between one man and one woman, only a few are saying that being gay is "sick and wrong" These people are now seen as extremists and even conservatives distance themselves from them. The old arguments that being gay was wrong, or a sickness are not the main arguments against same-sex marriage. This implies we as gays and lesbians have achieved a higher level of acceptance in our society. Consequently, the fact that we as gays and lesbians are even being talked about by default lets us know that we have achieved a place at the table.

But this is not equality. Separate and unequal has never worked.

Michigan State University recently mounted an exhibit titled "Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals, 1933-1945," This quote, posted on the wall, recounted what led up to gay men being captured, tortured and killed:

The growing visibility and acceptance of homosexuals in some circles challenged traditional social norms. As liberal and left-wing activists campaigned to promote homosexual civil rights, conservative nationalists fought to preserve and even expand restrictions against homosexuality.

May history not repeat itself here in the United States of America.

©2004 by Joe Kort

Related: Issues, Books

Psychotherapist Joe Kort, MA, MSW, has been in practice since 1985. He specializes in Gay Affirmative Psychotherapy as well as IMAGO Relationship Therapy, which is a specific program involving communication exercises designed for couples to enhance their relationship and for singles to learn relationship skills. He also specializes in sexual addiction, childhood sexual, physical and emotional abuse, depression and anxiety. He offers workshops for couples and singles. He runs a gay men's group therapy and a men's sexuality group therapy for straight, bi and gay men who are struggling with specific sexual issues. His therapy services are for gays and lesbians as well as heterosexuals. His articles and columns have appeared in The Detroit Free Press, Between the Lines Newspaper for Gays and Lesbians, The Detroit News, The Oakland Press, The Royal Oak Mirror, and other publications. Besides providing therapy for individuals and couples, he conducts a number of groups and workshops for gay men. Now an adjunct professor teaching Gay and Lesbian Studies at Wayne State University's School of Social Work, he is doing more writing and workshops on a national level. He is the author of 10 Smart Things Gay Men can do to Improve Their Lives. or

* Gaydar (gay'.dahr, n.): (1) The ability that lets gays and lesbians identify one other. (2) This column--where non-gay readers can improve their gaydar, learning more about gay men's psychology and social lives. Also, (3) a regular feature where gay readers can discover the many questions and hassles their straight counterparts--and themselves--must face!

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