The Conservative Movement votes YES to Same-Sex Marriage and Divorce Ceremonies.

For the past two days I was privileged to sit in on the proceedings of the CJLS – the Committee on Jewish Laws and Standards of the Conservative Movement at JTS. Many important and interesting issues were on the table but the main issue for me – and many others – was the passing of the responsum on same-sex weddings – offering a template and model for these sacred unions. I sat in on a similar meeting back in November, when the draft was sent back for more extensive work. Yesterday and today some important points were debated – but with a vote of 13 yes and one abstaining – the responsa passed!
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.
Mazal Tov!!!!
Here are some notes from the meeting –  just briefs and lots more to discuss and articulate.
1. The models proposed in this responsum were composed by the same rabbis who composed the 2006 responsum that oped the door for LGBT ordination. What is being offered here are suggestions for liturgy and structure for same sex weddings, as well as a suggestion for dissolution of such weddings. This is NOT a conclusive text or ritual – leaving room for other versions, modified liturgies, etc. This is great because there is definitely more that can be done here and there will always be individual choices and needs. I am excited to work on some new versions soon…
2. Some of the interesting contentions include the use of the liturgical forms of “the garden of eden” in the seven blessings. In the traditional version these poetic allusions are in heterosexual context – Adam and Eve, etc. Should these be used in same-sex weddings as well. I think yes. The Eden myth is about human origins, and about the pain of loneliness. The text does not have to be read as about male and female – but rather about masculine and feminine, and about our mythic human origins. Not everyone thinks so – my dear friend R. Steve Greenberg, for instance, has a whole other alternative cosmology. This new model chose to include this original language.
3. What is this wedding called – in JEWISH? It is not kiddushin – but is it Nisuin? It is a brit – covenant? Is is a Shutfot – partnership? And how does this get reflected in the actual ceremony and rituals? The short answer is that is it a BRIT – Covenant and PARTNERSHIP – Shutfot – but in English it is a marriage – and a wedding. More about that and the significance of the nuance in some later doc… (kinyan, etc.)
4. The vow taken between the couple with the exchange of rings in the present version is ‘Be me my partner in love and peace, in the eyes of God and Humanity’. (rough translation) – should it include the expression as in heterosexual weddings – ‘according to the laws of Moses and Israel’ or at least – in the eyes of God, People and Israel? ” TBD…
Bottom line – good news. progress day by day, the rest is details.

11 thoughts to “CJLS vote just passed…YES to Same Sex Weddings!

  • Heather Altman

    Amichai, I think Brit Shutafut is a better model for all couples and I always discuss it with brides & grooms who ask me to officiate. I used a Brit Shtuafut doc at my first wedding and incorporated the language into the Ketubah for my second wedding. the ritual can also become part of the chuppah ritual. but we can talk about that later. for now, yayyyyyyy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • O.N.

    Nothing about this is “according to the laws of Moses and Israel.”

    We are all human and do things that are not in accordance with Torah law.  But to twist the Torah’s meaning to say that it supports us in this behavior is self-serving and, quite plainly, a lie.

    And to call the Eden story a “myth” is to declare yourself a heretic.  So if nothing else, props for being consistent.

  • Aflax2

    Yaaaayyyyyyy!!!! So excited,

  • Furtive Patach

    O.N.’s comment is exactly why I think “k’dat Moshe v’Yisrael” needs to be part of the ceremony. If we are going to do this, we need to stand behind it and treat it as permitted and sacred.

    • O.N.

      Repeating a lie doesn’t make it true.  

      How do you have so little integrity that you can actually make such a statement so blatantly?

      • cipher

        How are you so brainwashed that you ignore decades of scholarship and refuse to see the Torah as a human construction?

        • Anonymous

           I’ve always wondered about people who claim Torah and halacha are never-changing, as if the Talmud wasn’t full of examples of such changes. What may have reflected the best wisdom of 2000 years ago doesn’t necessarily make for the best wisdom of today, and it’s a shame some people are so willing to write off the dignity of our LGBT brothers and sisters in favor of some sort of misguided view of the Torah and Jewish life as static.

  • Furtive Patach

    And if we’re not prepared to say it’s permitted, then we can’t help but betray gay people in the face of people like O.N.

  • Andrew Sacks

    Wonderful! I wish that Rabbi Simchah Roth could have lived to see this – although I know he did submit his work to the committee. He had written a Seder Kritut.

     Now that same-sex relationships are taken seriously by our Movement and the RA is taking an active role – it must be time to find a way to nullify the Tshuvot that call for the option of Reparative (Change) therapy. Please note that I have not called for a nullification of a traditional/conservative approach. But there can be no place for a possible  endorsement of a treatment classified as quackery by virtually all which, some conclude, may lead to great emotional distress.

    • Anonymous

      The Teshuvah, which should be posted at some point next week, was dedicated to the memory of Rabbi Simchah Roth Z”L

  • O.N.

    @cipher:disqus , If you believe that the Torah is a human construction, then you’re right, we have nothing to talk about, because we are working on entirely different premises.   But then why would you spend energy to follow the dictates of a document that was created by liars?  Does “Anochi Hashem” mean anything to you?  

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