Jewish community reacts to the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage | Nation | Jewish Journal



See mu we my comments on our big win at the Supreme Court  Amazing Love does win  and Justice too!


Jewish community reacts to the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage | Nation | Jewish Journal.

Where there is love, there is Justice

This was the sermon I delivered at the Multi-Faith Prayer Service in Washington, DC on Sunday April 26 for for Unite for Marriage.  It was delivered at the National City Christian Church.

Where there is love there is Justice. We gather here in this sacred place for seeking many things. We seek strength from one another as our lives are under scrutiny once again by the nation’s highest court. We fill our hearts with love for one another. We prayerfully seek God’s holy presence by our side. You O Holy one did not you make us also in your image? Everyday our humanity is questioned. Our humanity is daily threatened by so much pain and violence, an assault on personhood.  Our dignity is daily threatened by words and deeds across this nation as LGBT people seek to live and love in peace.  This night before our case is presented in the earthly court we appeal to Divine Justice in Your Heavenly Court, God.  We know that love and justice flows from You. You taught us with your words and deeds. You advised us to pursue justice vociferously. Tzedek Tzedek tirdof, Justice justice you shall pursue. And we have lived your words.  This LGBTQ movement for equality has been on the move. State by state. Conversation by conversation, lawsuit by lawsuit, wins and losses at the ballot box. But we have kept moving forward. Pursue justice You told us and that what we all have done and worked for activist, lawyers, and the everyday people who just wanted to marry their partner whether they were together 5 months, 5 years or 50 years  Tuesday the Supreme Court can bring about a full measure of Your justice God by extending marriage equality throughout this land. The time for love is now. The time for justice is now. For where there is love there is justice.

A teacher took a group of high school seniors on a nature hike. They walked along the winding trail of a steep hillside until they reached an area that looked out over a lush valley. The rocky hill behind them stood in stark contrast to the terraced slopes before them on which olive trees and grapevines were planted.

“Isn’t it remarkable,” said the teacher, “that right on the other side of this hill is a rocky slope that leads down to a muddy river. But on this side is a fertile valley where things are blossoming

“The same sun shines on both sides of this hill and the same clouds bring rain to this whole area. Yet, most of the growth is happening over here,” the teacher said, pointing to the valley before them.

The students looked about and nodded silent.

“I want you to think about this,” the teacher continued.  “At one time the valley wasn’t so lush and green. It was rocky and the landscape looked the same as the hill behind us.

“But with vision and hard work, the rocks were removed, the ground terraced, the soil prepared, trees and vines were planted. Lovingly the ground was nurtured. And after a while things took root and began to grow. For where there is love, there is growth.

“This valley is what your life can become,” the teacher said.  “Until now, everything you’ve learned, experienced has brought you to the place where the rocks have been cleared away. You will grow more.

In a few weeks you will graduate, the teacher told the seniors and then it will be up to you to build the terraces and plant the seeds that will develop throughout your lives. You will have the responsibility to love the land, to nurture it and help it grow.

“No work, no planting”, the teacher commented as he pointed to the rocky hillside behind them, “you’ll end up with a lot of obstacles to negotiate around.

“A plan and hard work will yield a fruitful growth, the teacher said pointing to the valley below. “it will take even more hard work to maintain this kind of growth , but which would you rather your life resemble.  (Bits and Pieces, Ragan Communications).

No matter the decision of the court win or lose, we will as a community need to maintain the growth and justice that we have sought. In either case we must love more-for where there is love there is justice. Even if we have a successful outcome in June and marriage bells ring across the land our work to bring justice and equality will not be over. There are still rocky cliffs in our way. We need full employment protection and protections in housing and education.  We need to adopt our children without hurdles and have access to the health care.

Our work for justice will continue no matter the outcome in June.

Through prophet Micah We were instructed: What does God require of you? Only Do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with Your God.  This is what we have done in the courts and at the ballot box and in our daily lives. We have sought to uplift equality and liberty for LGBT people. And tonight we seek, God, Your Loving Presence. Walk with us! Share Your bounty and abundant love with all those who seek to create a world where human dignity is lifted on high. For where there Your love is, there is justice. Teach us to do as You have instructed us despite our neighbors’ objections. To love them as ourselves. Spreading Your message of unending love. Ahavat Olam. Eternal love  for Your creations

We gather here tonight to inspire each other and to send a message loud and clear to everyone in this nation. That people of faith stand with the LGBT community. This is not religion against queer people but rather a revolution has occurred and I am proud to be a part of this. At the core of my religious faith is the eternal promise of justice for all.  Not for some but a vision that one day all people of good will and good faith and no faith shall sing in one voice an anthem of peace and liberty.  And we cannot gather tonight only 35 miles from Baltimore when there are others who lack equality and justice. Our community has known police brutality. After all the Stonewall riots were a response in 1969 to continued police harassment. And there will be no justice and equality until all are at the table

In Jewish tradition we teach that the Sabbath is a foretaste of the world to Come. A messianic time of peace for all people. It is not  limited to just some folks but is available to everyone. The Sabbath is a model of how the world might be. A world where we aren’t rushed or preoccupied with work. A world where poverty and violence are gone. A world where someone always has your back. A world where children go to bed at night with warm full bellies, safe and secure knowing they are loved. The Sabbath is the taste of the ideal where we can rest from our labors and enjoy the true gift of freedom and taste God’s abundance bounty and give thanks for that bounty. Our gathering tonight is a similar taste of that world. To help us imagine a world where LGBT people are always safe from violence. A world where we can taste the bounty of our love and equality. A world where there is no poverty of the body or the spirit. A world whether you pray to Jesus or Allah, Krishna or meditate on the energy of life can join in peaceful communion. A world where everyone’s got your back. A world where police protect the innocent rather than murder them. A world where the Supreme Court avoids politics and truly seeks justice and equality for all of Americas citizens including extending civil marriage equality throughout this nation.  For where there is love, there is justice.

Missouri and Kansas

Today another step forward in the march toward Marriage Equality as a court in Missouri struck down the marriage ban there.  St. Louis county is poised to begin issuing licenses!  The Show Me state is showing the rolling tide of equality in the mid-west-as Kansas also welcomed Marriage Equality this week.   It is ironic that even as Republicans took over both chambers of Congress, the marriage equality train continues on track toward all 50 states.  Not all Republicans oppose marriage equality and a few ran with a platform including their support for marriage equality.  But we must continue to strengthen marriage equality and most importantly –pass an employment non-discrimination act in this country.  You can get married in 35 states and the District of Columbia but you can get fired from your job in many of those states still!  This doesn’t make sense.

So even with a new Republican controlled Congress–let’s continue to work on job security and equality for LGBT individuals and continue our activism on marriage equality.  Let Freedom Ring.

An historic Day

Today is a true historic day! A moment when you can feel the chains of bondage breaking. The Supreme Court has ruled that Doma, the Defense of Marriage Act is dead. The Gay and Lesbian married couples cannot be denied federal rights and benefits. And Proposition 8, the hateful ballot proposition in California that went into affect in November 2008 taking away the right to marry is also history. The court ruled that the people who sponsored Prop 8 who took the case to court when the State of California Governor and Attorney General refused to sponsor the court case, had no standing to do so. Thus Prop 8 which was declared void and unconstitutional by a lower court ruling is just that unconstitutional.

While the Supreme Court avoided ruling on a sweeping marriage equality platform across the United States, the ruling means that now in 13 states (including CA) and the District of Columbia where marriage is legal, the Feds must recognize that marriage in the over 1138 rights and benefits and privileges at the Federal level.

The marriage equality fight isn’t over in the United States. There are many places where gay men and lesbians cannot legally wed. And there are 33 states in the US where you can still be fired for being gay! That is why it is time for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to pass the House and Senate. The marriage equality and adoption rights must still be fought state by state.

We aren’t full citizens yet. But today for sure… a little more.

I am grateful to God for this day. A day of blessing for sure. A day where we feel God’s justice showering down upon us and encouraging each of to continue the work of Tikkun Olam-repairing a broken world.

Pictures from DC

Rev. Elder Darlene Garner, Rev. Candy Holmes and Rabbi Eger
Rev. Elder Darlene Garner, Rev. Candy Holmes and Rabbi Eger
The rally on Tuesday (Prop 8 day)
The rally on Tuesday (Prop 8 day)
Michael Toumayan (HRC) and I in the Green Room
Michael Toumayan (HRC) and I in the Green Room
Rev. Mike Schuenemeyer (UCC) and I
Rev. Mike Schuenemeyer (UCC) and I
Me and Bishop Gene Robinson, IX Bishop of New Hampshire
Me and Bishop Gene Robinson, IX Bishop of New Hampshire
Brendon Ayanbadejo of the Baltimore Ravens spoke before I did
I was so happy to see my good friend and colleague Dr. Sharon Groves from HRC across the crowd!
I was so happy to see my good friend and colleague Dr. Sharon Groves from HRC across the crowd!
Speaking at the rally!
Speaking at the rally!
Me, Rev. Rebecca Voelkel (NGLTF) and her daughter, Shannon, the afikomen finder at the Seder!
Me, Rev. Rebecca Voelkel (NGLTF) and her daughter, Shannon, the afikomen finder at the Seder!
Lots of people in front of the Supreme Court (note that the building is being renovated so there is a false facade)
Lots of people in front of the Supreme Court (note that the building is being renovated so there is a false facade)

If you haven’t seen my remarks, you can watch a video here.

From Ganut l’Shevach: reflections on Passover and the Supreme Court

Read my latest blog post on Reform Judaism’s blog.

Happy Passover and Chag Sameach

The Supremes Take the Cases!

Today the Supreme Court said they would take the Prop 8 case and the Windsor DOMA Case! A decision will come this June one way or the other.  This is an important day for civil rights and human rights in our country.   This isn’t just about whether gay men and lesbians can legally marry their partners.  But there are a host of issues entwined in these cases.  In the Windsor DOMA Case, the Republican House members are defending the Defense of Marriage Act because the Administration agrees with the Federal Circuit Ruling that Section 3 of DOMA that prevents legally married same sex couples from inheritance without taxation is unconstitutional.

Our Speaker of the House decided with other House Republicans to fight to preserve DOMA.  At the Supreme Court hearing on this is not only whether or not DOMA is constitutional or unconstitutional but also an issue of “standing”. This means whether or not the House Republicans can defend DOMA if the Executive Branch (i.e. the Justice Department is unwilling because they agree with the Federal Ruling that it is unconstitutional!

A similar issue is at stake in the California Prop 8 case.  This is not only whether or not Prop 8 violates the equal protection clause since marriage was granted in California and then taken away by ballot initiative but who has the standing to bring the case.  Again the governor and attorney general of the State of California agreed with the District court that Prop 8 was unconstitutional and violated the equal protection clause.  Thus the case was appealed by various anti-marriage groups.  The Supreme Court will also hear whether or not they have the standing to even be a part of the case.

So put on your seat belts.  Get ready to witness one of the great Supreme Court cases in American history.

Keep working for equality on the ground and help more states pass marriage equality legislation and propositions.  Hawaii and Illinois, Rhode Island and Delaware, and Oregon are likely next targets.  Anyone game for a trip Portland?