Long ago, our ancestors sang a song of celebration. God assembled the entire Israelite people to provide water for them all. The Israelites in return sang this song to God: “Spring up, O Well – sing to it – the well which chieftains dug, which nobles of the people started…”
This song celebrated the Israelites past, present, and future. They sang of those who dug the well: the pioneers who spent years building it and allowing for this moment to arrive. They also sang about water, the substance that allows for wholeness and life.
With last Friday’s Supreme Court ruling, we also sing a song of celebration. We celebrate LOVE; we celebrate that Love Wins. We celebrate that everyone in our country, whether you are gay, or straight, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender; whether you live in the Great State of New York or the Great State of Mississippi are free and able to marry the person who you love. Love Wins.
Our ancestors’ song was a long time coming. The previous song was sung 40 years earlier when the Israelites safely crossed the Sea of Reeds. In the meantime, there were 40 years of hardship, struggle, infighting, loss of hope, and being stuck in the wilderness with no clear path ahead.
For much more than 40 years, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and trans individuals have struggled. For decades, those who have a gay son or a lesbian sister or a friend or family member that identifies as LGBT, have struggled. This has been a long, difficult journey! Gay men and lesbians have fought homophobia for generations. We have been fired from our jobs solely because we were out; we have been bullied because of who we are; we have been punished by our state and federal government enduring constitutional amendments and the Defense of Marriage Act. We have been scared to hold hands in public afraid that horrific words would be sent our way or bottles would be hurled towards us, or worse.
As a gay man, I questioned my identity for years and hid quietly in the shadows of the closet, afraid to leave those suffocating walls because I was scared to be me – to be out – to be proud.
Luckily, I was able to come out and to meet the love of my life, Brian. But, when it came time to get married in 2008, New York State did not recognize same-sex marriage. We had a beautiful Jewish Wedding Ceremony, but our rights were not recognized by anyone, except us.
Two years ago, the Defense of Marriage Act was struck down and the US government was required to honor marriages in whatever state gay marriage was legal. Brian and I finally were married legally, with Caleb, our son, serving as our best man.
Our ancestors faced a very long journey, circling back and forth in the wilderness, looking for a path to the Promised Land. Forty years, occurred between that first song of celebration and the second song for the very source of being: for water and for LOVE.
Our society has faced a long painful journey of homophobia and discrimination. But, we have finally touched the Promised Land. Today, gay men in Georgia and Lesbian Couples in Utah can legally get married. Today, gay parents adopting in Ohio can have both of their names added to their son’s birth certificate. Today, Jim Obergefell, can be listed as husband on the death certificate of his long time spouse John Arthur.
There is a long way to go before we truly become a utopia. Even in our celebration, even in our laughter and happiness, there is sadness, there are tears. We are in mourning for the nine innocent people, including four pastors, who were laid to rest, solely because of their skin color, solely because they were black.
As Jews, we know that the journey to the Promised Land is a long one and that the only way for us to get there is by working together to end all discrimination and to fight hatred with Love. As Jews, our voice must be heard; we must not remain silent. We will stand together against hate, we will stand together against violence, we will stand together for justice, and truth, and kindness, and equality. We have tasted the Promised Land and we remember the long, arduous journey. And so, we reach out our hands and hold on firm, and continue step by step, journeying forward, to the Promised Land we know can exist for us all.
Rabbi Andy Gordon serves on the clergy team of Temple Sinai of Roslyn
4 replies on “Love Wins: A Celebration of Gay Marriage”
Kevod harav…I agree with everyting you say and I feel the same way except when you imply that this is what juutice demands as if it is rooted in our ancestors struggle for freedom and what God intends. I think that’s a stretch and it negates the feelings of people who don’t agree with same sex marriage based on their beliefs.
Seems pretty clear to me that the text says that God created every human being, man and woman, in God’s image. It doesn’t say anything about their sexual orientation or skin color. If you’re going with the “what God intends” argument, it seems entirely inconsistent to not take that into account.
What about Genesis….A man shall leave his father and mother etc….This verse seems to define marriage as between husband and wife.
Let me congratulate you on your newly found right, and wish you and your partner to “live long and prosper.”
My problem with the decision has nothing to do with love, and all to do with the meaning of state and the purpose of the Supreme court. The State should not be mixed in marriage. Civil commitment is OK, giving special rights to people with children is OK, but engaging ins “sacramental” support is not. Rabbi’s and Priests should marry, and the Supreme Court should stay out of it. In Jewish religion, marriage is a contract, and the two sides should not involve the state. What is happening in Israel should be enough to convince us of this.
To find a right to gay marriage in the Constitution is to twist it like a pretzel. Homosexuality was a crime when it was written, and it was a crime until almost 100 years after the 14th Amendment was written and approved.
We have now opened the doors wide to any “love relationship.” This is OK with me on the social side, but not on the political side. Watch out for Polyandry, Polygamy, and Group Marriage. All can be voluntary and love related, none should be legally based.