March 26 2015
On March 26, 2006 a door of dignity opened. The Conservative Movement passed a historic LGBT ruling that welcomed people like me to be ordained as spiritual leaders. That was the year I decided to enroll at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America and become, at last, a rabbi.
Today, nine years later, LGBT inclusion, dignity and progress are game changers in the shifting American – and Jewish – landscape. More and more, across denominational lines, those who once rejected the likes of me, get to know and respect the actual people who are proud to live out loud, created in divine image like everybody else, free to love, live, create families and lead communities.
But today, In Indiana, a bill was signed by the governor in a private ceremony, attended by nuns, priests and at least one Orthodox rabbi, shutting the doors in the faces of many, including, potentially, the likes of me.
The Religious Freedom Restoration Act is complicated. The protection of religious freedom is what got Clinton to sign it into being in 1993, and since then it has been debated, used, abused and distorted. It is now used by politicians and the religious-right in a fight against progress and human dignity.
Today it gives people in Indiana the right to reject others based on religious beliefs that champion fear over love, hatred over compassion, religion over spirit.
I respect religious freedom. I reject discrimination.
Shame on the rabbi who joined Governor Pence today for the signing, along with other faith leaders.
The law is supposed to go into effect on July 1. Who knows what will be till then and how this will play out, but I’d like to drive into Indianapolis this summer, with a big beanie on my head, a smile on face, a yellow star with a pink triangle on my chest, hand in hand with another man, and go into any store I want, in the name of religious freedom, and buy stuff, and be welcomed, because in God We Trust.
Forget the props. You get the idea. I hope we won’t be there alone.
When we sit at Seder next week, celebrating freedom from oppression, as our Christian friends honor the resurrection of the one who preached compassion, I also hope that we will pause to honor our sacred legacies, celebrate divine diversity, translate theology into social justice, and walk our talk, for human dignity, and for God’s sake.
New York City