[Hillel] said: What is hateful to you do not do to your fellow man; this is the entire Torah, the rest is explanation - go and learn. (BT Shabbat 31a)
I've never been so disappointed in our 'democracy.' The majority-Republican California Supreme Court just upheld Proposition 8, a discriminatory and religious Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. It's bad enough we have a bunch of religious lawyers out there making unconstitutional laws - we need judges, too? This is a bitter disappointment, a complete failure of democracy and freedom, and it's the religious peoples' fault, especially their leaders.
It's not the first time I've run up against this issue. For years, I was "Orthoprax" - meaning I kept Orthodox Jewish halakha and kept my mouth shut about what I knew about it. A turning point came when I helped organize, for our college Hillel, a community discussion of the film Trembling Before G-d, which documents gay and lesbian Orthodox Jews. I faced bitter opposition from wet-behind-the-ears community members and ultra-Orthodox rabbis who keep their wives behind closed doors. These rabbis should have been sponsoring the event - not opposing it!
We had the event, and it was successful, but the experience raised doubts in my mind about the Orthoprax approach. Once you get beyond "absolute truth" (which I discovered was nonsense after three years of intensive study in Israel), organized religion is really a bunch of organizations. The Orthodox Union does not support gays - why should I support them? Why donate money and time to an institution that I don't believe in and don't agree with? Why participate in a conspiracy of silence just so rabbis could continue to abuse the Torah?
Some 'religious' institutions do get it right. One of these is Progressive Jewish Alliance. I danced at their huppa on the steps of San Francisco City Hall for the first state-recognized gay marriages, before Prop 8. But these organizations are a drop in the bucket, and we could accomplish the same thing without the religious angle. As support for gay marriage grows, I am sure other religious organizations will begin to catch up. But I'm not sure I want any part of it.
Here are some pics of those weddings at City Hall. I will always remember it as a sweet day.