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Comment: Britain must stop fudging its way to equality and let religions marry gay couples

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  1. Robert in S. Kensington 22 Mar 2012, 3:15pm

    Absolutely fantastic! I hope more religious leaders like this good rabbi step foward to show solidarity with equal marriage equality. It is indeed wrong for the consultation to exclude those denominations who wish to participate in same-sex marriages. If anything is an abuse of religious freedom, this is it. Allowing those to participate will only alienate those in opposition even further into irrelevance. It’s absolutely shameful that these denominations are shut out.

  2. Dennis Battler 22 Mar 2012, 3:37pm

    British Jewish scholar Israel Abrahams (1858-1925). “The formulation of the highest truth needs constant revision, and even more surely do the forms in which truth is clothed. When dogma takes the place of love, religion is dead.”

    Excellent article and quote – this is the heart of the matter (pun unavoidable) … the heart. Without heart marriage is a dull ritual bound in misery, weakly stitching together a society, forced mating for purposes antithetical to the strongest bond, that being love. Man’s desire to use religion to regulate social structure has proven anemic. Where love happens to occur is well beyond religion as its been known. Time for religious bigots and zealots to give over.

    1. Robert in S. Kensington 22 Mar 2012, 3:59pm

      Exactly, love existed long before the Abrahamic cults came along and changed everything, for the worse.

  3. This man really is a much needed breath of fresh air in the equal marriage debate!

  4. This is a powerful argument. If those who stand against marriage equality do so from a position of demanding religious rights, then they cannot argue against their argument being turned on its head. Unless, of course, they wish to style themselves as the “one true faith” who set the standard that all religions and denominations must adhere too (no chance). We must make it clear that there really isn’t a movement to kick down the doors of churches and demand that the priests perform our marriages. Those who wish to select a faith that does not treat them as equal need to explore that within themselves, it’s not a battle we should be having. If the CoE refuses to perform same sex marriage as it against dogma, fine. But what they cannot do is assert that dogma over whether someone else will do it.

    1. Robert in S. Kensington 22 Mar 2012, 4:04pm

      The religious opponents claim their freedom of religion is being threatened or under attack for opposing same-sex civil marriage. Yet, they are the same people who want to trample on the religious freedom of the Unitarians, Quakers, Liberal and Reformed Judaism. I think there should be an amendment in the final result permitting them to take part as the rabbi correctly advises. All four denominations should start their own campaign against the oppression and abuse of religious freedom by the CoE and Roman cults combined and making their voice heard loud and clear within the consultation and beyond.

    2. Robert in S. Kensington 22 Mar 2012, 4:06pm

      The Unitarians, Quakers, Liberal and Reformed Judaism should start their own campaign to be included in the final result, make their voices heard loud and clear to stop the oppression and abuse of religious freedom by the CoE and Roman cults. They have no right to impose their religious beliefs on other belief systems and society as a whole.

  5. Excellent article. Gay people will still be discriminated against if their church and synagogue weddings have no legal standing while those of opposite sex couples having the same ceremonies in the same places do.

    There should be no compunction upon religions to offer same sex weddings, but for those that do they should be able to be treated on an equal footing.

  6. The rabbi has it right, religious freedom means each denomination can determine whether it wishes to solemnize same-sex marriages. The Pope and the Church of England have it wrong, when they say that religious freedom means they have a right to have their views enshrined into law as prohibitions against other denominations.

  7. Peter & Michael 22 Mar 2012, 5:26pm

    Thank you Rabbi Goldstein, we must have religious Same-Sex Marriage for those religions that wish to participate, and not told by our government what not to do.

  8. Fantastic article, Thank you Rabbi Goldstein.

    “At the outset, I must point out that comments concerning ‘religious freedom’ around debate led by the Pope, the Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu and Cardinal Keith O’Brien, are spurious. Not once has there been any suggestion of compulsion – religious institutions must accept equal religious marriage. Rather, there currently is a bar on my religious freedom to perform a Jewish marriage ceremony for couples, regardless of their sexuality, who yearn for God’s blessing upon the essence of their union: love, commitment, sharing of values and ethics in a monogamous relationship.”

    Powerful words that certain other religious leaders need to read and reflect on.

    1. Robert in S. Kensington 22 Mar 2012, 7:34pm

      Yes indeed. Those certain other religious leaders may read and reflect, but I doubt if they’ll be moved. My only hope is Lord Ali will introduce an amendment permitting religious denominations to participate by choice without any mandatory compliance. It’s very unfair and discriminatory to ban those willing to participate. I hope those denominations that do want to do just that make their voices heard and put pressure on the government to accede.

  9. Thank you, Rabbi Goldstein.

  10. At last! Common sense and decency from a British religious leader! the Rabbi is to be commended. We need more people like him.

  11. chris lowcase 22 Mar 2012, 7:06pm

    yeah ok fair enough *holds breath*

  12. This raises many questions.

    Why do same sex couples want to have anything to do with what many see as a patriarchal insititution?

    In a conventional wedding, blessing is a prayer for fertility. (Blessing may be more than that, but it cannot be less.) What does it mean to bless a same sex couple?

    1. I’m not sure it really has anything to do with us or what we think.

      God isn’t owned by straights or a particular religious org or by Government. It’s entirely up to the people concerned what meaning they put into their religious wedding.

      Didn’t you read the article at all?

      1. The whle point of marriage is that it is an institution – i.e. that is is recognised by wider society. It is not a private contract – if that’s all it were, then anyone can do that any time and there would be no need for this debate. If something is to be recognised by society (and/or church) it must have some meaning.

        1. Marriage is recognised by the whole world. CPs aren’t. CPs are a UK institution for gay couples and is only 6 yrs old. A new name simply to avoid the real use of the correct term marriage. An institution which has become known by the media and everyone else as marriage in any case. Why use different terms for what essentially is the same thing and has the same meaning?

          I simply don’t know what “church” you are talking about. In fact my partner’s “church” is not called a “church” but a Friends Meeting House of the religious society of friends (ie Quakers). They don’t operate like the CofE. It’s a bit patronising to talk of one “church” when there are several types and beliefs. Are the Quakers supposed to follow the CofE’s meaning of marriage now?

          Please be clear what religious org you are referring to and what meaning that religious org has put into marriage.

          1. In English law, the definition of marriage was that of the church. Civil marriage simply provided for the registration of marriage outside religious buildings, but the definition of marriage remained the same. Civil partnerships are not marriage in law – though they have some similiar features, they differ in the most obvious feature: they are not about male and female.

        2. Spanner1960 22 Mar 2012, 11:27pm

          I don’t think you get it.
          I am not religious, so I can only speak from what I have heard, and that is one has a personal relationship with God. Anything above that is simply other men telling you how to hold that relationship. Churches have no more right what to tell you to believe in than anybody else. One’s faith is between you and God, and that IS a private contract.

          1. Bisexual woman in Edinburgh 23 Mar 2012, 11:44am

            Faith, yes. Religion, not entirely. There is also a strong element of community to religion, and for many people that is what affects their desire to get married in a place of worship. Why do you think so many non-religious couples currently marry in church? For the couples who are actually religious, this is likely to be even more important. And thus it matters to them whether or not their religious community and house of worship will permit them to marry there. I know that my cousin, a Liberal Jew in a civil partnership, would have loved being able to have a religious wedding, and her religion is all for it as well. It’s the state standing in their way.

    2. blessing is a prayer for fertility. (Blessing may be more than that, but it cannot be less.) What does it mean to bless a same sex couple?

      Presumably the same as it meant when the Prince of Wales had his civil marriage blessed at St George’s Chapel by the ABoC. No-one could imagine the Duchess of Cornwall is likely to be ‘fertile’ any more.

    3. Bisexual woman in Edinburgh 23 Mar 2012, 11:17am

      You’re lumping all religions together, where in fact they vary enormously. The denominations which support same-sex marriage are a lot less patriarchal, and a lot less concerned with issues such as fertility, than the ones which oppose it. I grew up as a Reform Jew, and was also a member of a Liberal community for years (indeed, Rabbi Aaron was briefly my rabbi), and I always admired the way in which Liberal Judaism has fought against sexism. Do you even know what is said in a Liberal Jewish wedding ceremony? Are you assuming that all faiths should follow a “conventional wedding”, complete with “Dearly beloved” as the opening phrase?

      And why should we assume that same-sex couples cannot have children? Mixed-sex couples frequently choose not to procreate, or are unable to do so. For all the talk coming from the equal marriage opponents about marriage being for the purpose of procreation, I’ve yet to hear of a single faith which would deny marriage to an older or infertile couple.

  13. It’s frustrating that religious marriages are being left out of the consultation.

    It feels like we have already established the principle and the need and desire for them just a few months ago when “religious” CPs was being discussed.

    Surely it would be just as easy to make the change now rather than later on. My fear is that Baroness TweedKnickers of M&S will just come up with a “prayer” again to say it’s not legally sound with or without the change and at least if the govt has put in the opts outs/opt ins from the start they can say it’s all been covered in detail….

    1. Spanner1960 22 Mar 2012, 11:22pm

      It’s that ongoing, unwritten rule: politicians and religious leaders will avoid confrontation at any cost.

  14. What a splendid person. A shame so many other religious leaders aren’t as enlightened.

  15. Spanner1960 22 Mar 2012, 11:20pm

    Good to see somebody who follows their personal faith, rather than religious edict and dogma passed down like some corporate mission statement.

    1. Bisexual woman in Edinburgh 23 Mar 2012, 11:22am

      Yes, although I’d like to point out that he’s also following the official position of both Liberal and Reform Judaism. It’s not just individual rabbis calling for religious same-sex marriage. There’s an official demand for it which has been deliberately ignored by the mainstream press.

      1. Spanner1960 23 Mar 2012, 11:31am

        Even better then.

  16. Admirable man! And what a stark contrast with the other report about the Muslim preacher who believes ‘As Muslims, we follow what Allah commands us without seeking the reason or the wisdom behind it.’

  17. Michael Wohl 23 Mar 2012, 4:12pm

    Brilliant. Clear. Articulate. Passionate. With rabbis like you and Laura and Miriam around, there really is hope for Progressive Judaism.

  18. Aaron Goldstein – hats off to you:-).

    ‘… I am used to our culture of fudging our way forwards but the reasons why we need to keep pushing for Full Marriage Equality remain the same.’

    And this: ‘ If dogma is not to take the place of love, then it is time to progress our definition of the institution of marriage.’

    Wonderful and if only we could all remember that procreation and legality has little to do with the desire to love and cherish each other. It is the proclamation of commitment that is the driver.

    Mind you, I think that the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages should be the registering body while the ensuing celebration can be a religious (or no) occasion.

    But this is an excellent article.

  19. As a Canadian, I fought long and hard to make full gay marriage legal. When our government offered wishy-washy “domestic partnerships” they were rejected by Canada’s gay community, as we insisted on being fully equal. It drives me mad that Britons refer to gay domestic partnerships as “marriages”. THEY AREN’T.

  20. Leslie Moss 28 Mar 2012, 6:03pm

    Aaron is my Rabbi and it gladdens my heart to read his words. If only the Chief Rabbi could be selected from among Progressive Judaism ministers … But sadly the official voice of British Jewry will remain hostile to gay marriage.

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