As an inclusive community, Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills is proud of the Supreme Court as they declared same-sex marriage legal in all 50 States on Friday, June 26. Speaking on behalf of our clergy, please find Rabbi Laura Geller’s statement below about the ruling and truly historical moment… Love Wins!
It is a real shehechiyanu moment. I am proud to be part of a religious community that has helped us to reach this day. As we take this step forward, it is also important to take a look back, to see just how far we truly have come:
1965 — the National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods (now Women of Reform Judaism) resolved: “We… deplore the tendency on the part of community authorities to harass homosexuals.” “We… urge revision in the criminal code as it relates to homosexuality,” they continued.
1972 — Beth Chayim Chadashim was the world’s first synagogue founded by, and with an outreach to, lesbians and gay men, and now serves as the world’s first LGBT synagogue.
1977 — the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), the professional association of Reform Rabbis, called for decriminalization of homosexual acts between consenting adults, and an end to discrimination against gays and lesbians.
1983 — Rabbi Eric Weiss became the first openly gay man to be accepted to Hebrew Union College (HUC), the Reform Movement’s rabbinical school.
1987 — the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC), now the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), urged congregations to “encourage lesbian and gay Jews to share and participate in the worship, leadership, and general congregational life of all synagogues.”
1990 — the CCAR endorsed the equality of all Jews, and the acceptance of gay and lesbian Jews into HUC and the rabbinate.
1997 — the UAHC (now the URJ) resolved to support “secular efforts to promote legislation which would provide through civil marriage equal opportunity for gay men and lesbians,” and to “encourage… congregations to honor monogamous domestic relationships formed by gay men or lesbians.”
1998 — the CCAR reported that “kedushah (holiness) may be present in committed same-gender relationships between two Jews, and that these relationships can serve as the foundation of stable Jewish families…”
2000 — the CCAR passed a resolution allowing Reform rabbis to officiate at same-sex commitment ceremonies.
2003 — HUC accepted Reuben Zellman, the first openly transgender rabbinical student.
2006 — The Reform Movement opposed the Federal Marriage Amendment, as well as state amendments to ban same-sex marriage.
It is actually extraordinary to see so much change in our own lifetimes. The first lesbian marriage in which I officiated was in 1995. Though legal marriage was not an option, the partners wanted their relationship to be blessed by our tradition because they believed that this is the inheritance of every loving Jewish couple. Years later, they reaffirmed their vows in another ceremony when gay marriage was legalized in California. It was at their second ceremony that I truly understood the significance of the words, “By the power vested in me by the State of California.”
Now all rabbis anywhere in the country can invoke the power vested in them by the state in which the marriage takes place, and declare loving partners married in accordance with the laws of their state, and our Jewish faith. Yes, this is the inheritance of every loving Jewish couple.
For Reform Judaism, and our Congregation, gay marriage is not a violation of religious principle; rather, it is a proud expression of the truth that every human being is created in the image of God. Love Wins! Shehechiyanu indeed!