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Conservative Movement Votes on Same Sex Unions

Passes in a landslide

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The Conservative Movement’s Committee on Jewish Laws and Standards has just—as in within the last few hours—passed a responsum (a rabbinical ruling) on same sex weddings including a template and model for a wedding ceremony and for marriage dissolutions. The motion passed, according to Amichai Lau-Lavie, the founding director of Storah Telling Inc., with 13 voting yes and one abstaining.

It was a dry, legalistic moment with but little smiles, a matter of business almost – and the meeting was adjourned immediately after. But I had tears in my eyes, the only gay man sitting in that room full of rabbis who were directly dealing with MY life and hopefully future ceremony – or at least the ones I’ll be leading…. ‘No trumpets!’ I said to one other student sitting next to me in the back of the room. “Pretend” he told me. And I did. And it was beautiful, like the joyful noise right after the groom breaks the glass.

Lau-Lavie goes into some of the nitty-gritty of the ruling and the contentions around them. Some of it is over my head, but the new model includes the original language of the 7 blessings, while other matters, like the language of the vows, are still being ironed out. Either way, first enjoy the Mazel Tovs because as Lau-Lavie notes, the rest is just details.

CJLS Vote Just Passed… Yes to Same Sex Weddings! [Amichai Lau-Lavie]

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jmm64 says:

It’s all about members and the Conservative Movement desperately needs them.

Esha n’knet.. b’casef u’v’shtar, uv’bia.   A woman is acquired in three ways, and she acquires herself in two ways.  She is acquired through money, through a contract, or through sexual intercourse.  etc.    At any traditional Jewish wedding you’ve ever been too, representations of all three of those acts, by a man, with a consenting woman, have been what is actually going on, no matter what nice words and pretty ceremonies you may have heard and seen.   There was a ketuba (the contract), there was yechud (aloneness together where sex is at least possible in theory) , and there was a ring (an object of value) given by him and accepted by her.  

It will indeed be interesting to learn whether marriage of two men involves any of these three mechanisms, by one, in regard to the other, by both in regard to each other or what?    

It will be interesting to learn whether a get is required to dissolve the marriage, and who must give the get to whom.   

Or perhaps it will be fit into some other legal framework, such as a business agreement between two equals.    It will be interesting.    

Personally, I don’t really see how you could fit same sex marriage into a halachic framework of acquisition and assent to being acquired.  Better to define a new kind of halachic “marriage” that is more like a business agreement between two people, a Jewish civil union if you will, and make it available to gay and straight people equally, than to try to fit same sex couples into the traditional framework of male acquisition of a consenting female .   
But I don’t really know who contemporary Conservative rabbis are, or whether they are thinking about the halachic underpinnings of relationships in these terms any more.

kotzk1 says:

Rabbis who profess  to follow Jewish law should not give Judaism’s blessing to gay ‘marriage’, real or ersatz.

marcofernandez33141 says:

There is no “gay” marriage. It’s just marriage, regardless of the two individuals sexes. I applaude the progressive response of the conservative movement.

PhillipNagle says:

What the Torah refers to as an abomination the Conservative movement is now blessing.  They have abandoned Judaism to get in step with current trends.   

    Christopher Reiger says:

     PhillipNagle, I’d encourage you to read the short, illuminating article (linked below) exploring the root and meaning of the Hebrew word “toevah.”  While it is usually translated as “abomination” today, the traditional definition of the word was rather different from “abomination,” which was the translation adopted for the King James Bible, a Christian text. In fact, as the Sh’ma article points out, depending on your halachic stringency, “participating in male homosexual intimacy is the same type of offense as eating a shrimp cocktail.”

    Granted, I don’t eat shrimp cocktail and I’m heterosexual, but I don’t condemn Jews who have a taste for shrimp or who are gay.  Time, as ever, will bear out increasing tolerance.  (Sure, this passage makes the challenge of retaining strong Jewish identity in a universalizing world that much MORE difficult, but that’s a challenge we can take on with full hearts.)

      PhillipNagle says:

      I don’t get my translations from the King James Bible.  I get it from the High Holiday machzur and other Jewish translations of the Torah.  I’ll stick to abomination and not the appologist mental gymnastics.

        Christopher Reiger says:

         Fair enough, so long as you view any Jew who doesn’t keep strictly kosher as an abomination, too (since Torah uses the same word to describe both).

          PhillipNagle says:

          What we call “strictly kosher” is more Talmudic than Biblical.  It is amazing the mental gymnastics people are willing to go through to lessen the Biblical condemnation of male homosexuality.

        oaklandj says:

        No, Torah doesn’t say that. Halakhic interpretation does, but that will likely change, like lots of the mitzvot that are much clearer in intent in Torah.

abash40 says:

Seems like nothing remains to differentiate the Conservative and Reform movements. 


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Conservative Movement Votes on Same Sex Unions

Passes in a landslide

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