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This orthodox rabbi’s words on choosing who to vote for are inspiring

Joseph McCormick May 7, 2015

A senior orthodox rabbi has written an impassioned message about voting choices based on candidates’ sexual orientations.

Rabbi Jeremy Lawrence of Finchley United Synagogue commented on Facebook about allegations earlier this week from Tory Vice Chair Mike Freer that Labour canvassers have been telling Orthodox Jewish voters that he is gay. The allegations were reported exclusively in PinkNews, and were apparently a bid to stop them from voting for him.

Mr Freer, who is married to his partner of 23 years, Angelo Crolla, is running a closely-fought race against Sarah Sackman in Finchley and Golders Green – which has the highest concentration of Jewish voters in the country.

Rabbi Lawrence wrote that “there are many factors” to consider when choosing which candidate to vote for, but said “it is wrong”, to suggest that Orthodox teaching meant voters should vote against Mr Freer based on his sexuality.

He continued: “It reflects a woeful bigotry and homophobia. It isolates one single quality of one candidate without any reference to any merits or flaws of the others.”

Of his personal voting intentions, he said: “I shall not be voting for the religion they espouse nor the partners they have married.”

Recent polling has shown Mr Freer – who is one of the most senior gays in the Conservative Party – is neck-and-neck with his Labour rival.

Also this week, Lib Dem Lynne Featherstone – the MP responsible for same-sex marriage – threatened to go to the police over “false” Labour leaflets attacking her in nearby Hornsey and Wood Green.

The full post from Rabbi Lawrence is available to read below

It is certainly not my intention to voice a partisan opinion in today’s election. I have met and respect the two leading candidates. I was most disappointed to learn of yesterday’s London Evening Standard headline in which Mike Freer’s sexuality had become promulgated into a justification for Orthodox Jews to vote against him.

There are many factors which we should consider as we place our X on the ballot paper today. The individual qualities of the candidates and the policies of their parties; positions on matters at home and overseas; even tactical implications for coalition building.

It is wrong to suggest that Orthodox religious teaching precludes voting for a man who has demonstrated his commitment to the constituency and the Jewish community on the basis of his sincere and principled personal relationships, neither flaunted nor concealed.

It is wrong. It is a Wrong. It reflects a woeful bigotry and homophobia. It isolates one single quality of one candidate without any reference to any merits or flaws of the others.

As an Orthodox Jew, proud to be voting in the 2015 elections, proud of our democracy and proud of my heritage, the merits of Mike Freer and of Sarah Sackman, of Jonathan Davies (and others) and the policies of their parties will inform my decision. I shall not be voting for the religion they espouse nor the partners they have married.

I shall remain silent on my vote – for that is my private prerogative. I shall not be silent in the face of discrimination and vilification.

Rabbi Jeremy Lawrence

More: Facebook, Finchley, jeremy lawrence, Mike Freer, Orthodox, rabbi, voting

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