First, let me state unequivocally that everything between me and my wife is perfectly fine. We enjoy a loving heterosexual marriage. Second, this post in no way shape or form should be considered a “halakhic pesak” (Jewish legal opinion) With that out of the way, let me tell you how I became (one of) the poster boys of gay marriage (or more appropriately: marriage equality).
As my phone was exploding with text messages informing me that our group was on FOX, NBC, MSNBC, ABC, and CSPAN, I was celebrating amidst many people who had just seen their lives become a little more free.
Growing up in the Orthodox communities of South Bend, IN and St. Louis Park, MN, before “elevating” to the modern Orthodox community of Teaneck, NJ, I had very little exposure to people who acknowledged their homosexuality (i.e., were “out”). While there were no doubt members of all those communities unhappily living a heterosexual life, few – if any – were willing to embrace their truth publicly. Thus, it was only once I entered Rutgers University that I had to confront the situation of reckoning my religious beliefs with people I consider friends.
Upon returning to the national security conference I was actually in Washington to attend, a friend whom, I hold in the highest regard asked me: “Aren’t you Orthodox? How can you support gay marriage?”
Without hesitation I responded, “Because it’s the right thing to do”. After further questioning, I basically said that I saw no contradiction. After all, I had to get married twice. My marriage to my wife had to be recognized by the great State of New York, after which we enjoyed the pomp, circumstance and tradition that goes into a wedding adhering to halakhah (Jewish Law) so I don’t see that the Supreme Court recognizing this right for so many people is in any way contradictory to my beliefs – they are mutually exclusive. The Supreme Court was judging on my New York State marriage (or union), not my halakhic wedding.
I recognize this as my view and in no way representative of anyone else’s. Nonetheless, after watching Facebook, etc. over the last week, I felt the need to say something.
Both my wife and I are blessed to have many very close friends who are gay – one was a member of my groom’s party. These friends, and my support of their right to the legal, emotional and financial benefits my wife and I enjoy does not impact my kashrut or observance of Shabbat or any of the other myriad actions I take to be a member of the Jewish community I have decided to identify with. I don’t fear them, I don’t worry I will “become gay”; I embrace them as my brothers and ask that they overlook the disgusting comments of some people who are – mistakenly – viewed as leaders of my community.
One of the principles I greatly appreciate about my Judaism is the unending fight against sinat chinam (groundless hatred) and the placing of the relationship between people above the relationship between God and man. How anyone can look at the faces of the people who were granted their overdue equality and see evil, not only disappoints me but saddens me.
I’ll let you in a secret: the majority of us from the Truman Project, who were on TV for hours on end, are not gay. Am I happy about having my face plastered all over the media for hours with the “Supreme Court Gay Marriage Ruling” headline? You bet I am. God willing, in 50 years, I will be able to tell my grandchildren that I was there, and I was there to support my friends (and the law). My hope is that they won’t understand why it was a big deal.