Gay marriage protest 311 AP.
(photo credit: AP)
WASHINGTON - Reform and Orthodox Jews staked out opposing sides of the gay
marriage debate in America on Thursday after the Obama administration decided
Wednesday that the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional.
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the act, the federal government is barred from recognizing same-sex marriage. As
a result of the determination by US Attorney-General Eric Holder, which comes as
the act is being challenged in multiple states, the US will no longer defend the
act in court. Members of Congress could still do so, and the act remains in
effect for the time being, but the switch is a major blow to the legislation and
the case against gay marriage in America.
Soon after the decision was
made public, the Reform Movement's Religious Action Center issued a statement
calling the move "as welcome as it is overdue." "We know that the stamp of the
divine is present in each and every human being. Loving, committed couples gay
no less than straight deserve the opportunity to celebrate their relationships
and have them recognized in the eyes of the law," said Mark Pelavin, the RAC's
associate director. "Now is the time for Congress to repeal the discriminatory
law once and for all." Though the American Jewish community is generally broadly
supportive of gay rights and the administration's new policy was mostly
positively received, not everyone was pleased by the stance.
Agudath Israel of America, for one, released a statement taking "strong
exception" to the administration's reversal on the 15-year-old act, which it had
defended in court until this week.
Agudath charged that Holder, in
criticizing the "moral disapproval" of gay behavior, which he cited as a
rationale for no longer enforcing the act, among other statements, used rhetoric
that "demonstrates the kind of anti-religious hostility disallowed by the First
Amendment. Religious values, ethical imperatives, historical tradition are all
swept away no, disparaged by this destructive characterization." The group
noted that it had taken an active role in crafting the act and "has been among
the groups in the forefront of efforts to maintain the traditional definition of
marriage in law and society." Earlier this week, the RAC also came out strongly
against Glenn Beck for criticizing Reform Judaism as "almost like radical Islam"
on his Fox News show.
"Reform rabbis are generally political in nature.
It's almost like Islam, radicalized Islam in a way... radicalized Islam is less
about religion than it is about politics," he said. "When you look at Reform
Judaism, it is more about politics." In addition to the umbrage the Reform
Movement took at the comments, the Anti-Defamation League joined in criticizing
the talk show host.
"Glenn Beck's comparison of Reform Judaism to radical
Islam demonstrates his bigoted ignorance," ADL National Director Abraham Foxman
said. "Despite his feeble attempt to suggest that he was not equating Reform
Judaism with Islamic extremist terrorism, the simple fact that he would mention
them in the same breath is highly offensive and outrageous." Beck himself
apologized on air Thursday, agreeing with Foxman's assessment.
making a point about political activists, and I started to talk about the
difference in rabbis. Somebody has called me ignorant for what I said on
Tuesday, and I think that's a pretty good description," he said.
one of the worst analogies of all time, and I knew it when I said it, and I just
kept going," Beck continued. "Here I am talking about Judaism, and I start
comparing Islamic extremism, and it was just, it was a nightmare."