The more rooted you are in Judaism and Christianity and Islam, the more likely you are to vote for Proposition Eight.
What surprises me is that more Orthodox rabbis aren’t urging its passage. They are not be true to the Torah.
Rabbi Avrohom Czapnik emailed his list:
I am enclosing the following link to an informative and well-written article as food for thought on a key issue facing us in California. It urges you to support Proposition 8 to help avoid the slippery slope of moral decline that could result from its defeat.
Please feel free to share your thoughts with me about this important matter.
Along with the new Jewish year we welcomed a new cycle of Torah-readings. For Californians, the first post-Sukkot Sabbath reading was particularly timely, coming as it did a mere ten days before the 2008 elections. It should have given pause to Jewish opponents of Proposition 8, the measure aimed at amending California’s constitution to enshrine the traditional definition of marriage in state law.
An assortment of arguments can be made in support of Proposition 8 – from the deep and abiding connection of marriage with procreation, to the healthful effects for children of having both a mother and a father, to the endangerment of religious freedom lurking in societal sanction of same-sex unions (which will all too easily be used to tar conscientious objectors as unlawful discriminators).
Such arguments aside, though, Jews with respect for their religious tradition will perceive in the first chapters of Genesis the clear template for marriage: the first man and the first woman. As the text declares: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother and cling to his wife [literally ‘his woman’] …” (Genesis 2:24).
And, in fact, the Torah, both in its written dimension (what we call the Jewish Bible) and its oral one (the “rabbinic” material that determines Jewish law), goes on to forbid the sexual union of two men. (The issue of female same-sex unions, while in a different category, is prohibited as well.)
What is more, and here more to the point, societal “officializing” of such unions – i.e. calling them “marriages” – is particularly condemned by unimpeachable and authoritative Jewish sources. They consider a society that “writes marriage documents for men” to be endangering its very existence.
A Jewish case can certainly be made for a libertarian approach to matters of personal behavior, for a “live and let live” attitude that, for all its morally objectionable yield, can help ensure the protection of religious and other fundamental freedoms. In any event, the behavioral issue is legally moot; the highest court in the land has declared unconstitutional laws that criminalize homosexual acts between consenting adults. But Proposition 8 is not about legislating personal behavior – be it same-sex, multi-partner or incestuous, all of which have their proponents. It is, rather, about preventing a twisting of the time-honored and timeless definition of marriage, a definition whose upholding the rabbis of the Talmud considered to be one of humanity’s saving graces.
We Jews as a people have a tendency toward “progressive” movements and tend to welcome all societal change as inherently healthy and good. Some such change, of course, is indeed so, and Jews can be rightly proud of having been at the forefront of social causes like racial equality and employees’ rights. But headlong rushes to a “more enlightened future” have landed some Jews in some unsavory places, like the forefront of communism in the early decades of the previous century. Or, centuries earlier, among the Hellenists of ancient Greece. Or even earlier, dancing in celebration of a golden calf.