I wish to respond to both the Jan. 15 news article about rabbis and gay marriage and that of Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. I felt a strong discomfort with both sides of this issue.
First of all, contrary to the viewpoint often by gay rights advocates, religious conservatives do have the right to advocate for the retention of marriage as defined as one man-one woman. This is different from racial discrimination in that it involves intimate relationships that are forbidden by a host of religious traditions. Orthodox Jews, Catholics, and conservative Evangelicals should not be confined to some intellectual ghetto. Separation of church and state means a limitation on the state, not on the religious.
Contrary to Rabbi Boteach, one cannot be faithful to Orthodox Jewish tradition and be involved in a same-sex intimate relationship. In short, Catholics, Orthodox Jews, and Evangelicals have a perfect right to argue for any alteration of traditional marriage.
Secondly, contrary to the views of Rabbi Yudin, however halacha may view such a relationship, gay couples are entitled to equal protection under the law. The use of such terms as “abomination” does not shed any light on this topic. A Jew who eats shrimp or lobster also is committing an abomination, yet that terminology is not used.
One can express support for traditional marriage without using language that is downright insulting.
In short, there can be a compromise that both sides could live with.
Namely, the state legislature could strengthen civil unions to include all rights of marriage without calling it marriage. This would provide gay and lesbian couples the protection of law without force-feeding religious conservatives (Orthodox Jews like me) the concept of the legitimacy of a gay or lesbian relationship, equating it with a heterosexual marriage.