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Comment: Let faiths celebrate gay marriages

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  1. I belong to the Reform Branch of Judaism and alot of people in my faith support religious same sex marriage.

    1. Are you saying that you have removed Leviticus and Deuteronomy from the Torah?

      1. @Jonpol

        I think from a member of the reform branch, the important word may be reform – but I’m just guessing …

  2. Moving and welcome.

  3. concernedresidentE3 12 Oct 2011, 4:25pm

    as do the Quakers

  4. As a gay jewish man I am proud of my religion for accepting the lgbt reason why am proud to be part of an ever changing tribe!

  5. Rubber Ducky 12 Oct 2011, 4:45pm

    whilst i do not subscribe to their religion (or any for that matter) i do have a lot of respect for faiths like liberal judasim and the quakers who wish to be inclusive and treat people equaly with dignity and respect so i take my hat off to Rabbi Goldstein for this peice

  6. Peter & Michael 12 Oct 2011, 4:57pm

    We agree, although we are not in any way religious, that if any gay people wish for a religious marriage ceremony, there must be inclusion for this, in the forthcoming consultations.

  7. Mark Dean Brown 12 Oct 2011, 5:11pm

    Good work Rabbi!

  8. Great to see pro gay support from religious people

    This is a challenging message to both other religious people and to those in the LGBT communities that presume those with faith are going to be bigoted and unsupportive

  9. Wonderful! Puts the bloody C of E and Roman cults to shame. Reformed Judaism is a hell of a lot more christian than most christianity itself by including everyone in marriage. Well done and well done to the Quakers and United Church of Christ.

    1. I’m gay and C of E, and my church is fine with it. It’s not entirely fair to take one view for everyone in a denomination, as there are always going to be those who’s views differ on the matter. Hopefully more sects of Christianity will start changing their general views too, but it’s the views of the members of the faith that count, not neccessarily the values of the faith as a whole.

  10. I agree that religions should be allowed perform same-sex marriages if they wish, and that this should be facilitated when marriage equality is introduced.

    However the main priority should be civil marriage equality, and we cannot let religions interfere with that.

    It’s great that liberal judaism, unitarianism and quakerism support marriage equality, but the fact remains that these are minor religions whose position wil affect few people.

    My personal preference is to move towards the French or Dutch system – whereby ALL legal marriages must be performed in a registry office. And if someone wishes to have a religious ceremony as well, they are free to do so, But the religious ceremony has no legal standing in its own right.

    The larger more bigotted religions will use this rabbi’s well meaning intentions to pretend that their religious freedom is at stake (As if! Try getting a catholic wedding if you are divorced).

    1. Religion is at heart anti-democratic as it places ‘god’ as a supreme ruler over our destinies. Such beliefs are personal, sure, but those of us who disagree with such views must have our civil rights protected from these groups trying to interfere with the law.

      1. Surely the creator knows wha is best for the created. The flight from morality and responsibility has resulted in AIDS and other loathsome diseases that kill even innocent babies.

        1. There is no reason that a scientific view of the world cannot be the basis for morality.

          1. … and moral responsibility, ofc.

          2. Really. So according to science, is it immoral wrong to kill say a competitor. It happens all the time in the animal kingdom.
            Is abortion immoral according to science?
            How about stealing to feed your family? How do you test the morality of that using the scientific method.
            Your assertion is preposterous!

          3. Science can and does provide a basis for moral values and responsibilities.

            When the facts are examined, it is religion’s claim to provide a basis for moral values and responsibilities which is preposterous.

          4. @Jonpol


            There is no reason science, philosophy, social science, or pure human interaction can not be the source of morality, ethics etc …

            For some, it will be theological however … I dont pretend to understand it … but it remains a fact

        2. As so many heterosexuals are incapable of taking responsibility for their own marriages they point the finger and blame others when their marriages break down, they cry, “protect marriage from gays” .
          It is usually AIDS passed from heterosexual men to heterosexual women that results in babies born with the illness
          Placing the blame on gays is cowardly, immoral and dishonest and you know it.
          Meanwhile if you understood morality and were a moral person yourself you would be encouraging all couples to marry if they felt they were ready for it and if you cared at all about commitment or about halting the spread of diseases
          resulting in promiscuity.

          1. For clarity, I condemn all fornicators, not just gays. Where did I say it was just gays?

          2. @Keith

            You may not have said it was “just gays” but you seem to focus on “just gays” and babies for whom there is very little link … biologically despite your assertions …

            Your confusion is very stark

        3. Correction:
          Resulting from promiscuity, is what I meant

  11. The state of Israel is a lone symbol of civilised tolerance to gay people n the middle east.
    What does that tell us about the surrounding countries?

    1. Actually what does that tell us about you?

      Why are you bringing middle-east politics into this discussion, when it has absolutely no relevance at all?

      1. Whilst I can see room for vague connection between Judaism and the state of Israel, the state of Israel SHOULD be bigger than the religion of Judaism (regardless of how liberal or orthodox).

        This discussion should be more about marriage and its links to religions (and to none) and the input of the Rabbi in this respect is invaluable

  12. I have come across so many lapsed gay Christians such as myself who have explored progressive Judaism and chosen to covert due to its inclusiveness

    1. Good for you.

      Personally I feel no reason for any religion. Atheism is lovely.

      1. Although I am not religious nor atheist, I have found some atheists more dogmatic and “religious” than some who state they are religious … It almost makes atheism a religion in itself in terms of characteristics

        1. That is the refrain of religious people I think.

          When I say ‘I do not believe in ‘god’, I do not believe in any higher power, when we die our bodies rot and fertilise the earth, and I feel you are foolish if you are waiting for an afterlife’; I am usually accused of being dogmatic.

          Religion has a far more disgusting and shameful history and bigotry than atheism does. But atheists are accused of being dogmatic. Typical religious behaviour I think.

          It really is very liberating to realise that you alone are responsible for your destiny and that religious dogma and ‘god’ are completely unnecessary for a fulfilling life.

          1. As an outside observer, I see that some religion can be bad but so can some atheism.

            There is sometimes an infantile response (from both sides) of “they are worse than we are …”. Neither aspect of intolerance is acceptable.

            As a non religious person I realise that religious dogma is not necessary for a fulfilling life, but then nor is atheistic dogma

        2. You (and other people who have replied on your comment) are talking about “atheism” as a group when infact it is simply just not following a religion. You say that you are not religious but neither are you atheist, which is kind of self contradictory seeing as being atheist is the complete opposite of following a faith.

          In the future, remember that atheists are not part of a big organisation like religions are, as atheism is not a religion.

          1. Jim

            Hang on a minute – I have never said that atheists are a religion and nor would I,

            I have said that some atheists are as dogmatic as people who are religious – and that has regularly been my experience

            There are some groups of atheists, but thats nothing to do with my point

            There is a spectrum of beliefs – ranging from polar ends of belief in some religious element to atheism and in the middle there is agnosticism – there is no contradiction in that. It may be simplistic but there is truth to it.

            In the future, read what I have said and ask what I mean if I am unclear, dont tell me I have said something I have not.

          2. In view of the fact that a dogma is defined as a proposition that is not likely to change in the light of new evidence, I can’t for the life of me understand how an atheist, whose sense of inquiry practically defines him, can be dogmatic.

          3. @Jonpol

            Dogma can also extend to principles and facts which are stated to be true

            Stating religion is wrong and damaging is an opinion and can be said dogmatically …

          4. My intention is not to quibble, but I have it from the Oxford Dictionary that a dogma is

            “a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true: the dogmas of faith”.

            For example, Jesus was born of a virgin; dogma. There is no other God but Allah; dogma. These dogmas were laid down by the Creator of the Universe, and it is considered heresy to question them.

            On the other hand, when an atheist presents evidence that a philosophy or an ideology is harmful to the well-being of humanity, he is constructing a workable theory, i.e. religion is basically undemocratic precisely because it is dogmatic..

            Still, I follow your meaning… some atheists can be more militant than others, I guess, perhaps depending on whether or not they have suffered personal harm as a result of a religious upbringing, or some other factor(s).

          5. @jonpol

            I fully agree that some atheists (and agnostics – and on a different basis some who are religious) will be more militant (or dogmatic) than others, and that their response to issues of faith and otherwise will be affected by their experiences etc

            The dictionary definition which I feel fits my use of the word dogma is:
            “1. a : something held as an established opinion; especially : a definite authoritative tenet
            b : a code of such tenets
            c : a point of view or tenet put forth as authoritative without adequate grounds
            : a doctrine or body of doctrines concerning faith or morals formally stated and authoritatively proclaimed by a church”
            There can be political or religious dogma, and it can be extended into other areas.
            The militancy of some views sometimes acts as blinkers to other factors affecting the bigger picture.

          6. “The militancy of some views sometimes acts as blinkers to other factors affecting the bigger picture.”

            Ofc. All the more reason to be honest about our beliefs.

          7. @Jonpol

            I would view it from a different perspective and say all the more reason to step back and consider other views before being totally vehement

  13. Yes, this is so important. Otherwise the government will change the law but will not bring in legal marriage equality for gay couples. Allowing some forms of same sex marriage while preventing other forms which are available to heterosexual couples will NEVER be equality and we want equality under the law.

    1. Which means legalise civil marriage equality, and worry about the far more minor issue of religious marriage a lot less.

      1. Minor to you but not to those to whom it matters

        If we dealt with this on grounds of numbers then LGBT are a minority – do we matter in the greater scheme of things? I think we do … So, religious issues that matter for some who are LGBT also matter even if they are a minority within a minority …

        1. If civil marriage equality is legalised then EVERYONE benefits.

          Religious marriage affects ONLY religious people.

          And religion is a fading force in Britain.

          So my point stands.

          1. I agree, if civil marriage is legalised everyone benefits …

            I agree, religious marriage affects only religious people

            I believe that all people, regardless of any religious belief or none, matter – and their desires matter – provided they do not impact on others. Thus, a desire for religious ceremony is important to some – as much as you may try to diminish this …

            My preference is for civil marriage to be carried out by state registrants (not religious ministers) only and for those couples for whom the religious element matters there can either be a separate or follow on religious celebration.

            However, to ensure this that means that we need to deal with the issue of religious equal marriage and not pretend that if we ignore it that it will go away.

  14. In the next 6 months the equalities office are going to shape the March 2012 consultation and one of the stakeholders they have said they are going to consult with is religious orgs so I hope the Rabbi and Quakers have had an invite , if not, why NOT!. I can’t see them excluding religious marriages, doesn’t make any sense to have done all that work on religious CPs and leave it at that. We want equality with straights ie all types of marriages, we don’t want to be sold vanilla ice cream and not be able to have strawberry ice cream as well. ..It’s discrimination and would be perscuition of minority religious faiths by the big boys…

    1. and if they did try to exclude the right to a religious ceremonies from faith group who wsh to conduct them, this would surely bye untenable. It would be a direct breach of the (UN & European) fundamental human right of freedom to practice religious belief. If marriage is lega they cannot exclude religious ones for those who wish to conduct them.

      I for one would take them to court & win.

      1. I agree – legal recognition of religious marriage needs to be scrapped.

        If a cult wants to marry anyone – gay or straight – then they should be allowed to do so.

        But allowing these cult marriages have legal recognition is very disturbing, considering how inherently undemocratic religion is.

        1. You have to bear in mind that religion is where the whole ceremony of marriage actually began.

          You should also bear in mind the fact that it is very rude to call a religion a ‘cult’, especially seeing as the practices of the majority of modern day religions basically just include prayer and being good people. Just because there is a belief in the divine or the ‘supernatural’ does not make it a cult.
          Are young children following a cult by believing in Santa Claus or the Tooth fairy? I think the general concensus would be no, especially considering that such children (like most religious followers) would be leading perfectly normal lives.

          1. “religion is where the whole ceremony of marriage actually began”

            That is simply not true.

            Religious cults pretend that they invented marriage. In fact the institution of marriage predates organised religion, so religion has no claim on tne institution.,

            And legal recognition of religious marriage needs to be scrapped.

          2. @Jim

            I disagree that marriage began with religion – there is evidence to suggest that marriage predates Christianity or Islam, the Judaistic connection is little more complex – but when you consider non Judaistic populations they also had marriage prior to the advent of religion.

            @ dAVID

            Your language to refer to religion as cults is offensive (probably more so to those who follow religion – although I suspect your use of that language is intended deliberately to offend). You lack an open mind by seeing all religious people as homophobic and “out to get us”.

            Your views on religion you are entitled to, but when you exercise your right to freedom of speech you (like others) also have a responsibility when exercising those rights to be honourable and accurate in what you say and avoid distressing, offending or harassing others. You fail to fulfill this responsibility in your emotive and unnecessary language, in my opinion.

    2. If it truly appalling that ANY religious group has been invited to offer their opinions on marriage equality.

      Religious cults are not obliged to marry anyone – they have complete freedom over who can marry in their cult building (try getting a straight marriage in a catholic cult building if you are divorced for example).

      Catholic, protestant, muslim, jewish, hindu cult groups should have ZERO influence on the civil rights of others,

      Religion is incompatible with democracy.

      1. Wrong your dogma demonstrates your lack of willingness to engage and treats all people with faith as identical …

        That is as untrue as the statements by the Archbishop of Glasgow on marriage

        I am gay and I can have opinion on parenting (despite not being a parent), I can have opinions on use of church buildings (despite not going to a church), I can have opinions on psychiatric services (despite not using them) … In the same way the church, synagogue or mosque should also be entitled to make their opinion heard – it is for those that them formulate the legislation to take into account what weight (if any) they place on these contributions, but they must in a legitimate democracy be entitled to make representations – however unpalatable their contributions – to refuse or ridicule the thought of them making contributions is an affront to a truly democratic and representative process and I am ashamed that a LGBT person seeking equality tries to prevent equal consultation.

        1. A church, mosque or synagogue cannot have an opinion as it is merely a building.

          A priest, imam or rabbi can have an opinion but when he speaks on behalf of a religion then he is speakling on behalf of a building.

          I respect an individuals right to believe and say what they like. But when these cult leaders speak on behalf of their religion then I tune out – it is entirely irrelevant and shouild not be tolerated.

          1. @dAVID

            One definition of a church, synagogue etc is a building used for religious purposes. Another definition is a group of people associated with that particular organisation using such buildings. In the sense that a church can be a group of people – eg the Methodist church has hundreds of buildings which are each churches or chapels but the organisation itself is also termed a church. Your use of definition is either overly prescriptive or deliberately obtuse.

            The priest, Imam, rabbi etc may have an individual opinion, but they may also express an opinion on behalf of the people they represent (the church, synagogue etc)

            Again you persist with offensive language which detracts from the important argument LGBT people have with ensuring equal marriage

            It is no different for a director of a theatre to make a personal response to an arts consultation as it is for the director to make a response on behalf of the “theatre”. Technically, the “theatre” is a building. However, …

          2. … most people connected to the arts would understand that the word “theatre” could refer to both the building or the people working in connection to that theatre.

  15. Who would want to join a religion they had 2000 years to accept us only know they are irrelevent they want us

    1. Neither you nor me, James!

      But that does not mean that there are not others who do, and given that there are – they have the same right to human rights that we should have. So for that reason, I will always support the minority within a minority which are LGBT people with a faith – they get crap from both sides potentially

  16. I always say, Gay Marriage Yes (of course) but Policies that force Religion to Marry Gays and Lesbians No Way – we can not force our believes on people with other Believes. Marriage should still have something to do with a love. If a Religion or a faith group belives in that love and is willing to marry two people no problem, but when we have to force them to do it, that sends the wrongest of all messages.

    Still we should pass in the Legislation that the Religous institution that do decide to allow same sex couples to marry, to have the same laws, duties and freedoms as they have for straight marriages.

    1. I whole-heartedly agree with this. It is very wrong to force religious groups to marry gays and lesbians, as this completely undermines the whole institution of marriage in the first place.

      I also believe, however, that it is wrong to remove the legality of ANY religious marriage (as has been repeatedly suggested by dAVID). The answer to the problem is to simply let the religions marry whom they will. We cannot force them, but if they choose to then all the better.

  17. Paul Mitchell 15 Oct 2011, 5:43am

    My group is called:

    “Athiests FOR gay marriage!”


  19. As has been said – NO-ONE is being forced to do anything under this proposed piece of legislation. This new legislation is merely and “enabling” piece of legislation which will allow those Faith organisations to perform same-sex marriages legally. We already have Civil Partnerships, this is merely extending the laws to allow for marriage for those who wish it. No celebrant, of whatever Faith or persuasion (even Civil Registrars), are going to be forced into it.

    This is a very thoughtful article and is to be welcomed within all Faith communities, whether Jewish or otherwise. This should allay people’s fears and will hopefully prevent any more “knee jerk” reactions from those who seek to scaremonger about their mistaken perception of a “moral decline in society”.

    I say, “Thank you very much Rabbi Aaron for your excellent article and for standing up for those of us who wish to see this crucial move forward! Your words are most welcome.”!

  20. Jock S. Trap 5 Nov 2011, 4:41pm

    ll faiths that wish to celebrate marriage equal shoul dbe able to and leave those that don’t in the cold to shiver and wither up into the history books.

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