My name is Nathan J. Diament and I and Director of Public Policy for the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America – representing nearly 1000 synagogues across the nation………and I am not happy to be here today.
Not because I don’t appreciate the good fellowship of all those here with me and not because I don’t believe marriage to be important – but because I, and all of us I believe – would rather not be engaged in this debate – it has been forced upon us. It has been forced upon us not by the courts, per se, which in this country must have cases brought to them – but by a cohort of activists pursuing a deliberate plan of litigation and political pressure which will not only redefine marriage, but will follow from that to threaten the first freedom enshrined in the First Amendment – religious liberty.
Let me note that one of the leading architects of the gay rights legal strategy recently said that, the battle between religious liberty and gay marriage is a “zero sum game.” (Prof Chai Feldblum, Georgetown Univ. – http://www.worldmag.com/articles/11926).
And lest there be no doubt, just look at the campaign being waged nationwide against the Boy Scouts; after the US Supreme Court recognized the constitutional right of the Boy Scouts to determine for themselves who may serve as their scoutmasters, a campaign is being waged to deny the Scouts access to public parks, public charity campaigns and more. Similarly, the Catholic Church in Boston has been forced to withdraw from their work of many decades – placing children in need of adoption or foster care in loving homes because the church would not violate its beliefs and place children in with same-sex couples.
Should same sex marriage be legalized, we know what will follow is this sort of campaign waged against any church, synagogue or other community institution with traditional beliefs about marriage. Their status as tax exempt charities will be challenged, the free speech of clergy who voice traditional views on marriage will be challenged here – as it is already being challenged overseas. No, I would rather be seeking the support of congress and the President for other religious liberty initiatives, support for cutting edge health research and other issues on my community’s agenda. But this fight has been brought by others to our doorstep and we cannot do anything other than resist. For these reasons and others, the UOJCA supports the Marriage Protection Amendment.
For further perspective on the traditional Jewish view of this matter, please see