National Rabbinical Organizations Issue Statements about Supreme Court Ruling Regarding Same Sex Marriages
Just as with last week’s horrific shooting in Charleston, there were national rabbinic organizations that issued statements regarding a national event. Following this morning’s decision by the Supreme Court of the United States of America to allow for a redefining of marriage to not simply be between a man and a woman, but rather between any two people, a couple of national rabbinical organizations issued statements on the matter.
Both the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) and the Rabbinical Assembly (RA) issued statements praising this redefining of marriage in America, while two Orthodox rabbinical organizations – Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) and Agudath Israel of America (AIA) – both issued statements unhappy with the ruling.
In both the CCAR’s statement, in which it says “The Central Conference of American Rabbis, the official rabbinic leadership organization of the Reform Judaism movement, applauds the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which determined that the Fourteenth Amendment requires states to license marriages between two individuals of the same sex” and the RA’s statement, in which it says “Our Movement recognizes and supports same-sex marriages as well as opposite-sex marriages, and therefore celebrates today’s ruling by the Supreme Court”, they very much praised the decision.
While both the CCAR’s statement and the RA’s statement used Biblical texts, they both used Genesis 1:27, which states “And God created the person in His image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Choosing this heternormative text in this sort of situation is quite baffling to the onlooker, as it would seem that the use of this text is being used to subvert the RA’s and CCAR’s own supportive message or is being used unwittingly ironically. As I wrote three years ago, “If people using this term truly valued the “image of God”, this would logically lead one to not only privilege heteronormativity, but also entirely devalue people of the same sex coming together in any way, as the ‘image of God’ necessitates two people of opposite sexes.”
Also, the RA’s statement further invokes Genesis 2:18, which states, “And the LORD, God, said, ‘The man alone is not good; I shall make for him a helper corresponding to him'”, in which the conclusion of the episode is, “‘…therefore, a man will depart from his father and from his mother and cleave unto his woman and they will be one flesh'” (Gen. 2.24). Thus, again, the RA picks another heteronormative statement, although I don’t know whether this is intended ironically or not.
In the RCA’s statement, they state that “While recognizing the civil rights of all who live in a democratic country as well as the diversity of religious and political opinions in a multireligious society, the RCA rejects the Court’s redefinition of marriage. Marriage is an institution defined by the Bible and subsequent religious codes and it is upon the foundation of traditional family life that our society has been built for millennia.”
In AIA’s statement, they state, seemingly responding to the RA and CCAR that “We reiterate that we remain firm and steadfast in our own religious beliefs, and reject the voices of those in the heterodox Jewish community who claim that same-sex marriage is compatible with Jewish law and tradition. The issue here is not whether all human beings are created in the Divine Image, or whether they have inherent human dignity. Of course they are, of course they do. The issue is whether the Torah sanctions homosexual conduct or recognizes same gender unions. It does not.”
Clearly, the non-Orthodox rabbinical organizations and the Orthodox rabbinical organizations differ on today’s ruling.