Thursday, December 3, 2009

Religiosity of Equality

This letter was sent to Senator Diaz’s office yesterday on behalf of the The Reform Jewish Voice (RJV) of New York State. I wrote it as a member of the Steering Committee and boy oh boy was I miffed about Senator Diaz's comment.

Dear Senator Diaz,

You were quoted in the New York Times saying that, “Not only the evangelicals, not only the Jews, not only the Muslims, not only the Catholics, but also the people oppose it.” “It” of course is marriage equality.

Now I cannot speak for all evangelicals, Muslims, Catholics, Jews or any other group you would like to unfairly type-cast as monolithic regressive ideologues. However, I can speak for a significant population of the Jewish community of this state. The Reform Jewish Movement, the largest synagogue movement in North America, has a long history of supporting civil marriage equality and I am offended by your statement.

I am a proud, practicing and religious Reform Jew. I was taught and believe that every human being was created b’tzelem Elohim, in the image of God. This means that all of us, as perfect or flawed as we may be, are entitled to respect and equality. Let this be in the embrace of our community or the eyes of the law.

But even as our tradition embraces same-sex couples as full members of our religious community, we are cognizant that other faith traditions hold differing views on this issue. That is why it is essential that civil marriage laws are not rooted in theology, but in the principle of equal rights. Today, you allowed your generalizations of many faith traditions to rationalize your actions.

Your vote against and vocal opposition of equal rights and protections for thousands of New Yorkers is shameful. But what is worse, is that you assumed the voice of millions of religious people who vehemently disagree with your position.

Senator Diaz, as one religious person to another, please do not speak for me on the religiosity of equality, on the Jewish tradition’s idea of marriage or on how I build a family according to my faith.