Mar 30, 2004
Today, the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) and the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (OU), the largest rabbinic and synagogue Orthodox Jewish organizations in North America, released a joint statement opposing the practice of same-sex marriage.
Citing Jewish law and tradition, the RCA and OU reaffirm the prohibition of homosexuality and the definition of the institution of marriage as between a man and a woman. The two groups state that the term "marriage" cannot be construed or applied to same-sex relationships, as to do so "is to deprive the term of its fundamental and defining meaning." The two groups call upon Jews and citizens everywhere to oppose any effort to bestow the sanctity of marriage upon same sex couples.
"We are joining together today to illustrate the very clear definition of marriage within the context of Jewish Law and Jewish tradition," said Rabbi Kenneth Auman, president of the Rabbinical Council of America. "As Passover nears, this statement is especially relevant since the Exodus from Egypt was a liberation from not only slavery and infanticide, but a rejection of the sexual, including homosexual, depravity that was sanctioned by Egyptian society as well."
While uncompromising in their opposition to the notion of same sex marriage, the RCA and OU in their joint statement call on their rabbis and synagogues to demonstrate compassion, sensitivity, and understanding in dealing with those who in spite of their acceptance of these principles, have difficulty in living up to these standards.
Following is text of the joint statement "On Same-Sex Marriage: A Statement of Principle," as issued by the Rabbinical Council of American and the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America.
On "Same-Sex Marriage": A Statement of Principle
The Rabbinical Council of America and The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America reaffirm the following foundational principles and beliefs in unambiguous and unmistakable terms:
Homosexual behavior is, and has always been, absolutely forbidden by Jewish law and tradition. Any attempt to characterize Jewish law and tradition to the contrary must be rejected.
The only legitimate form of sexual behavior is that which takes place between adult men and women, within the sacred institution of marriage, as traditionally defined and permitted.
Under no circumstances can Jewish tradition or law countenance a notion of so-called "Same-Sex Marriage" rituals or status under religious auspices. In our view, the term "marriage" by its very definition cannot be construed or applied to same-sex relationships. To do so is to deprive the term of its fundamental and defining meaning. The institution of marriage, and family life, as defined and practiced for thousands of years as between a man and a woman, a father and a mother, respectively, is far too important and essential to the bedrock of society and civilization as we know it, to be thus undermined by those who presume to redefine its essence.
At the same time we reaffirm that those who, in spite of their acceptance of these principles, have difficulty in living up to these standards, should be treated with compassion, sensitivity, and understanding, in our synagogues, in the Jewish community, and in society at large.
We further note that Passover, commemorating the Exodus from Egypt, is an especially appropriate time to reaffirm these principles. As Leviticus 18 makes clear, the liberation was not only from slavery and infanticide, but also from the sexual depravity practiced in ancient Egypt, which, as understood by the Sages of blessed memory (Sifra Lev. 132), included the legitimization of same-sex marriages.
We thus call upon our fellow Jews and fellow citizens to stand opposed to any attempt, whether judicial, legislative, or religious in nature, to bestow the sanctity of marriage upon same-sex couples.