Jewish Groups Rally behind Homosexual Marriage

An umbrella group of 42 Jewish organizations, temples and citizens in the Boston area are speaking out in favor of same-sex marriage.

The overwhelming vote by the Jewish Community Relations Council comes as the state’s Roman Catholic bishops are stepping up the rhetoric against same-sex marriage.

The bishops announced they will mail a flier to more than one million Catholic households in Massachusetts, urging the faithful to support a Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

In November the Massachusetts Supreme Court of Justice ruled that preventing gay and lesbian couples from marrying violates the Massachusetts constitution.

The issue has landed back in the lap of the high court as it examines a draft bill from the state Senate legalizing civil unions but not marriage. The Senate wants to know if it would suffice for the court’s November ruling.

Meanwhile, pressure from the Catholic Church and other conservative religious groups is mounting for an amendment to the state constitution barring same-sex marriages altogether.

The bishops’ flier calls on Catholics to lobby lawmakers to support a proposed amendment defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman. It gives three options for how to do this: by visiting Legislators personally; by calling them on the phone; and by writing them a letter or e-mail.

The Jewish Community Relations Council represents mainly a liberal element within the Jewish community, but has a powerful voice and represents the largest segment of the Jewish community in the state.

Its support for same-sex unions sends a strong message to the legislature.

“The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston urges our elected officials to enact legislation providing for same-sex marriage, in accordance with the recent ruling of the Supreme Judicial Court in the urges our elected officials to enact legislation providing for same-sex marriage, in accordance with the recent ruling of the Supreme Judicial Court in the Goodridge case,” the organization said in a statement.

The Council said it also “opposes any effort to amend the state Constitution to bar same-sex couples from marrying, or to deny legal benefits to same-sex couples and their families.”

Reform and Reconstructionist Judaism have supported LGBT rights for a number of years, and permits gay and lesbian rabbis and allows temples to perform blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples. Some temples even conduct weddings, although they are not recognized by the state.

Earlier the Union for Reform Judaism, the largest Jewish denomination in the country, and the Northeast region of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the association of Reform rabbis voted unanimously to support same-sex marriage. “This is hugely important, and it reflects the broad base of support for civil marriage within the Jewish community,” said Rabbi Devon A. Lerner.