Chief Rabbi’s opposition to marriage equality and civil partnerships ‘regrettable’

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The Chief Rabbi’s response to the government’s public consultation on marriage equality, in which both marriage for gay couples and civil partnerships were opposed, has been described as ‘regrettable’ by Liberal Judaism.

In its response, the office of the Chief Rabbi said Jewish Law prohibited ‘the practice of homosexuality,’ and argued against all same-sex unions, both civil partnerships and marriage.

The document submitted by the London Beth Din (Court of the Chief Rabbi) said marriage was, ‘by definition in Jewish (Biblical) Law… the union of a male and a female.’

The Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks will have a vote on the legislation as a cross-bench life peer in the House of Lords.

Liberal Judaism’s Rabbi Elizabeth Tikvah Sarah, said: “It is regrettable that the London Beth Din is unable to respond to the needs of the age and recognise that pronouncements that were relevant to a community millennia ago are not relevant today, and that if you really want to be inclusive – and “condemn all types of discrimination” – you need to recognise lesbian and gay people as full human beings with equal rights – human rights. That is what the Government’s equal civil marriage consultation is attempting to address.

“Kiddushin – Jewish marriage – is about sanctifying relationships and recognising committed partnerships. According to the Torah, each human being is made in the image of G-d, and lesbian and gay people are human beings too.

“As a rabbi I want to have the right and freedom to officiate at the marriage of two lesbians or two gay men, just as I do today for a man and a woman. I also want those marriages to take place in my shul building.”

Liberal Judaism, along with Reform Judaism, is a progressive movement within Judaism which has advocated the respect for religious freedom of faiths to marry gay couples if they so wish.

Rabbi Elizabeth Tikvah Sarah added: “I am proud that Liberal Judaism became the first religious movement in the country to produce official liturgy for blessing same-sex partnerships, which we did in 2005 by publishing our Brit Ahava and pray that one of our rabbis may someday become the first rabbi in the country to officiate at a fully equal lesbian or gay wedding.”