In a historic landmark decision on Friday, June 27, the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is protected under the Constitution. Now same-sex couples can get married in all 50 states. Many Jewish Groups had strong reactions to the ruling.
Agudath Israel of America issued the following statement in reaction to the 5-4 Supreme Court ruling that states are constitutionally required to permit and recognize marriages between members of the same gender:
“As we have repeatedly stated, including in the amicus curiae brief we submitted in today’s case, we oppose the redefinition of the bedrock relationship of the human family. The Torah, which forbids homosexual activity, sanctions only the union of a man and a woman in matrimony. While we do not seek to impose our religious principles on others, it is our sincere conviction that discarding the historical definition of marriage is not a positive step for civilized society.
“Moreover, we are deeply concerned that, as a result of today’s ruling, and as the dissenting Justices have pointed out, members and institutions of traditional communities like the Orthodox Jewish community we represent may incur moral opprobrium and risk tangible negative consequence if they refuse to transgress their beliefs, and even if they simply teach and express their religious views publicly. That prospect is chilling, and should be unacceptable to all people of good will on both sides of this debate.
“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.
“The truths of Torah are eternal, and stand as our beacon even in the face of shifting social mores.” The Rabbinical Council also responded on Friday with the following statement:
“The Rabbinical Council of America expresses deep concern over today’s ruling of the Supreme Court of the United States regarding same-sex marriage.
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.
We are sobered by the response of Chief Justice John Roberts, that ‘people of faith can take no comfort in the treatment they receive from the majority today’ and are alarmed about the threat articulated by Justice Samuel A. Alito that the majority opinion ‘will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy. In the course of its opinion, the majority compares traditional marriage laws to laws that denied equal treatment for African-Americans and women. The implications of this analogy will be exploited by those who are determined to stamp out every vestige of dissent.’
We call on the United States government to ensure, in the words of Justice Anthony Kennedy, ‘that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths’.”
Rabbi Leonard Matanky, president of the RCA said, “We remind all Americans of faith, Jewish and non-Jewish, that no court can change God’s immutable law. We will redouble our efforts to use persuasion to make the case for God’s eternal truths about the nuclear family and the bond between husband and wife. We stand committed not to lose faith in faith itself, and hope that others who cherish God’s teaching will join us.”
On the other side of the political spectrum on June 26, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) praised the Supreme Court’s decision in the four cases challenging the constitutionality of state marriage bans that limited marriage to one man and one woman, calling it “an historic step toward full civil rights for LGBT in America.” Barry Curtiss-Lusher, ADL National Chair, and Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:
“The court stood on the right side of history. The decision extending the freedom to marry to all same-sex couples nationwide upholds the dignity and liberty of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people everywhere.
This historic ruling, falling on the anniversaries of the Supreme Court decisions in Windsor and Lawrence v. Texas, is one of the most consequential decisions for the LGBT community, and indeed one of the most significant civil rights decisions in recent memory. But this is just one historic step on the journey for ‘justice and fair treatment to all.’ We remain steadfast in our commitment to fighting for the full range of LBGT rights, including the right to be free from all forms of discrimination.
ADL’s amicus brief, filed on behalf of a broad, diverse group of religiously affiliated organizations, recounted how discriminatory laws targeting disadvantaged groups have long been justified by religious and moral disapproval, an argument that has been rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The brief argued that overturning the marriage ban would not only ensure that religious considerations do not improperly influence which marriages the state can recognize, but would also allow religious groups to decide the definition of marriage for themselves.
ADL was joined on the briefs by American Jewish Committee; Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice; The Central Conference of American Rabbis and the Women of Reform Judaism; Global Justice Institute; Hadassah – The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Inc.; The Hindu American Foundation; The Interfaith Alliance Foundation; The Japanese American Citizens League; Jewish Social Policy Action Network (JSPAN); Keshet; Metropolitan Community Church; More Light Presbyterians; The National Council of Jewish Women; Nehirim; People for the American Way Foundation; Presbyterian Welcome; Reconciling Works: Lutherans for Full Participation; Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and Jewish Reconstructionist Communities; Religious Institute, Inc.; The Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund; Society for Humanistic Judaism; South Asian Americans Leading Together; T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights; and Women’s League for Conservative Judaism.
The law firm Greenberg Traurig, LLP prepared the friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of ADL.”