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Same Sex Marriage

By Gary Konecky

I recently had the wonderful privilege to participate on a very distinguished panel of


clergy that discussed the issue of sexual orientation and scripture. One of the audience
members asked a question that attempted to link the ban in Leviticus on homosexuality to
the ban in Leviticus on bestiality. Several panel members addressed this question. Then
the audience member asked it again, which I take as unwillingness to listen or to accept
the pro-gay explanation that was offered.

This brings up several issues, one of which is why deliberately misinterpret scripture?
The ban in Leviticus is not a ban on all homosexual expression. A literal reading of
scripture clearly indicates that it is referring to male homosexuality (not lesbianism) and
it appears to not be banning all male homosexual sex acts. Therefore, we can already
conclude these two verses are not the ban that this person was claiming which leaves us
with the question of why deliberately misinterpret scripture?

The next issue is the ridiculous argument against same sex marriage that the religious
right and bible thumping bigots make. This is the slippery slope argument that somehow
marriage is so fragile that it needs to be an excusive club for heterosexuals only. Implied
in this argument is the premise that only heterosexuals are capable of loving each other
and that homosexuals do not form loving relationships but only rut around like farm
animals. I would like to point out that I have never heard of any cleric who was
approached by two farm animals that wanted to be married. Furthermore, an
approximately 50% divorce rate among heterosexuals seems to indicate that
heterosexuals have done far more harm to marriage than any gay or lesbian person could
ever do.

Another problem with this argument by religious fundamentalists and bigots is that it
equates a committed relationship between two consenting adults to a sex act involving
sheep. Recently, my lover of 19 years and I went for a walk in a local park. This was the
first time that we had walked in that park in many years without our pet dog (who had
died earlier this year). How can any sane individual equate 19 years of for richer and
poorer, in sickness and in health, to sex with a pet dog? Much as we loved the dog, no
one ever had sex with her. How does one equate the worry about a sick lover who is in
the hospital with a sex act involving an animal? What type of sick individual would
equate 5 or 10 or 20 or 50 years of two adults in a committed relationship to a sex act
involving an a cow? How could anyone in their right mind equate an intimate loving
walk in a park by two adults with a sex act involving a donkey? Yet that is what this
audience member did and that is what members of the clergy taught him.

Why is that when two heterosexuals walk in public with their children, children that are
the product of heterosexual sexual intercourse, they are not flaunting their sexuality; yet
if two men walk down the street holding hands they are flaunting their sexuality? Why is
it that those who oppose equality for gays and lesbians can only think of gays and
lesbians in terms of what they do in the privacy of their bedroom? Does anyone think
that gays and lesbians have such great sex that they would go through all the trials and
tribulations of a committed relationship for a quickie?

Those who oppose same sex marriage are at best uneducated and are blatant hate
mongering bigots at worst. In either event, they use ridiculous, completely bogus
arguments to oppose same sex marriage. Same sex marriage will not lead to incest any
more than heterosexual marriage does. Same sex marriage will not lead to people
marrying their pets. Same sex marriage will not lead to pedophilia. There is no way that
two loving adults in a committed relationship can be a threat to anyone’s marriage. To
say any of these other things is to tell a lie. All these arguments against same sex
marriage are bogus, they are all red herrings designed to distract people from the real
issue.

As for the pedophilia argument, I want to point out that the Roman Catholic Church, that
has spent millions of dollars opposing any civil rights for gays and lesbians, is known for
a worldwide series of pedophilia scandals.

The there are those who claim that same sex relationships are unnatural. They make this
argument despite a massive body of scientific evidence that proves that homosexuality is
a natural behavior common to all mammals.

Then there is the bible literalist interpretation that says homosexuality is a sin. To which
Rev. Mel White replies: “Even when we believe the Scriptures are ‘infallible’ or
‘without error,’ it's terribly dangerous to think that our understanding of every biblical
text is also without error. We are human. We are fallible. And we can misunderstand and
misinterpret these ancient words -- with tragic results.”

Leviticus Rabbah 22:1 teaches us: “He who loves the study of G-d’s words will not be
satisfied with the written Torah, but will go on to the Mishnah and Talmud.” In Baba
Metzia 33, we are told: “The Rabbis have taught: ‘Those who study Scripture are
scholars of degree, but not a high degree. Those who study Mishnah are scholars of
higher degree. Those who study Talmud are scholars of the highest degree.’” Lastly,
according to Sopherim 16; “We read: ‘The L-rd spoke with you faces to faces.’ (Deut.
5:4) The passage does not read ‘pan to pan,’ face to face, but ‘panim le-panim,’ faces to
faces. This teaches there are four faces or kinds of Torah: Scripture, Mishnah, Halakah,
and Aggadah.” In Pirkei Avot 5:21, we are taught: “HE USED TO SAY: FIVE YEARS
[IS THE AGE] FOR [THE STUDY OF] SCRIPTURE, TEN-FOR [THE STUDY OF]
MISHNAH, THIRTEEN-FOR [BECOMING SUBJECT TO] COMMANDMENTS,
FIFTEEN-FOR [THE STUDY OF] TALMUD…” (see note)

The real issue of same sex marriage is about love, as in two adults who care for each
other more than they care for life itself. It is about giving two people (who love and want
to care for each other) the tools needed so that they can love and care for each other.
Such a love should be cherished and strengthened by society. Such a love should not be
open to public debate. Such a love should not be the subject of political campaigns.
Such a love should not be subjected to being voted on. Such a love should not be
subjected to the whims of a “majority”. Such a love should not be made contingent on
the approval of the Roman Catholic Church, nor the approval of the Mormons, nor the
approval of fundamentalist “Christians,” nor the approval of Muslims, nor the approval of
Orthodox Jews. Such a commitment should be the providence of the two people who
G-d has blessed so that they were able to find each other and to love each other. Let us
remember that one of the greatest curses is that of loneliness and that one of the greatest
tragedies is to die alone and unloved.

Civil marriage is about strengthening the bonds of love and giving two adults in a
committed relationship the tools needed to take care of each other. Those tools being
health insurance (which many employers provide for married employees and their
spouses), hospital visitation rights (which are frequently restricted to family members),
immigration rights (so as not to break up a loving relationship because one person was
not born here), the right to bury ones spouse (which does not include mere lovers or mere
domestic partners) and finally the right to inherit property (which again does not include
lovers or domestic partners). How dare anyone attempt to interfere in such a personal
and intimate relationship? How dare anyone interfere in such a loving relationship with
the goal of destroying such a relationship? How dare anyone liken such a caring
relationship to a sex act with an animal? How dare anyone call loving and caring for
another person a sin?

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Note: The quote from Pirkei Avot is in all caps as the quote is a mishnah, To distinguish
mishnah from gemara, some publishers print the mishnah in all caps when it is printed in
English. The source of the quote is The Soncino Talmud , Judaic Classics by David
Kantrowitz, Version 3.0.8, Copyright 1991-2004. .