Candle lighting time is 8:18
This week a United States District Court judge, Judge John E. Jones, struck down the law banning same-sex marriages in Pennsylvania.
I know Judge Jones well, having been a senior manager in the headquarters of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board during Judge Jones’ tenure as chairman of that Board from 1995 to 2002.
Judge Jones was an excellent Chairman, overseeing a period of substantial modernization, improved operational efficiency, and the advent of an outstanding alcohol education program.
As a judge, Jones obtained prominence when he presided over the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District bench trial, the first direct challenge brought in the federal courts against a school district that mandated the teaching of intelligent design. Jones ruled against the school district, concluding that intelligent design is not science, and permanently barring the board from “maintaining the ID Policy in any school within the Dover Area School District, from requiring teachers to denigrate or disparage the scientific theory of evolution, and from requiring teachers to refer to a religious, alternative theory known as ID.”
As a strong believer in separation of church and state, I fully agreed with Judge Jones’ decision even though I do not dispute the theory of creation found in the Book of Genesis, an integral part of our Torah.
In this week’s ruling striking down the Pennsylvania ban on same sex-marriages, Jones found that restricting marriage to man-and-wife couples violated the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment, and issued “an order permanently enjoining … enforcement” of the ban.
“Encompassed within the right to liberty is the fundamental right to marry,” he wrote.
As a believer in separation of church and state, I must agree with Jones’ ruling. There is no doubt that same-sex couples were not treated the same way as married couples. They were subject to different tax laws, were often denied health care coverage and other benefits normally granted to married couples, and were not permitted to legally enjoy all of the happiness and pleasures of a wonderful marriage.
Yes, discriminating against same-sex couples should be legally wrong.
But religious law and civil law are not and should not be the same in a pluralistic society that has a constitution guaranteeing freedom of religion.
There are 613 mitzvahs In Judaism and they are all laws given to us by Hashem. Some apply to one sex or the other and some cannot be followed because of the destruction of the Temple, but should we obey all of the laws that apply to us? Of course we should. Do we obey all of the laws that apply to us? Those that do are surely few and far between. But that does not mean that the laws are wrong.
And so, when we talk about same-sex marriage from a Jewish perspective, we find the Torah telling us in Chapter 18, verse 22, “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind; it is abomination.”
We also find several passages in the Deuteronomy discussing who a man can marry, how a man must treat his wife, and what a man’s obligations are to his wife if the marriage should end in divorce.
And so, from a Jewish perspective, it appears that same-sex marriage is not permitted.
The courts may find same-sex marriages to be acceptable, but Judaism does not.
What do you think?
This Monday, May 26, we celebrate Memorial Day. Yes there will be ball games and picnics, and that is fine. But Memorial Day is, first and foremost, a day to honor and remember those gave their lives serving in the Armed Forces of the United States. As we enjoy our holiday celebrations let us remember the sacrifices of those veterans who made this holiday possible.