Canadian Politics from Canada's Centre

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Jewish Gay Marriage No; Gay Civil Unions Yes

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Judaism considers that everyone has a role to play, and should carry out the responsibilities associated with that role. Civil law considers that everyone has equal rights that they are entitled to exercise. Understanding this fundamental difference is key to seeing how one can be against Jewish Gay Marriage while supporting Gay Civil Unions, and might help conflicted members of faiths besides Judaism reason out how they ought to stand, by basing themselves on their own religion's conception of marriage.
Jewish marriage is a tool and an institution created and regulated by the Torah (the Jewish Bible). The Torah assigns it many purposes, the foremost of which is to have children, and ensure the continuity of the Jewish faith. So right from the get-go, gay marriage doesn't work (and the Torah considers that the act of procreation is supposed to be sexually enjoyable, so artificial insemination is out).
In addition, the role of the man in a Jewish marriage is not the same as the role of the woman, as can be seen by their different duties. For example, the man is supposed to pray for the family in synagogue, while the wife is supposed to take care of the children's education. Consequently, two men/two women doesn't work. The role of wife can't be played by a man because he has other duties to do, and there are only 24h in a day.
The basic purpose of civil unions not being procreation, there is no inherent problem with gay civil union. Civil unions are a right granted by the state. Their purpose is for recognition by the state, and whatever effects the laws of the state associate to such recognition (such as tax benefits). Since the state can change its laws to recognize whomever and whatever it wants, the purpose of civil unions mainly being an issue of recognition means that gay civil union is logically acceptable.
Furthermore, there are no gender-specific roles in civil unions, because Western civil codes do not delineate them.

On a related note, I see an interesting parallel to Plato's Republic/The Laws. Plato wrote that man-made laws always lag behind change, so they are permanently inadequate. The result, according to Plato, is that we should train a small elite of naturally gifted people to govern; their understanding of the good of the state would make things flexible and instantly adaptable, thus overcoming the problem of fixed laws. He also advocated pursuing divine law, since this was perfect and thus not made obsolete by change.

Related articles:
Harper Won't Drop Gay Civil Unions
Conservative Government: Majority vs Minority
Jack Layton's Issues with Gay Marriage
Judaism's Freedoms and Civil Society's Freedoms

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