New York became the sixth and largest state in the United States Friday to legalize same-sex “marriage.” The marriage of homosexuals was legalized by the New York State Legislature and Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Agudath Israel’s executive vice-president, Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, warned that the legislation not only decrees “an ‘Orwellian’ redefinition of marriage” in the Empire State but endangers the religious rights of Orthodox Jews and other traditionalists.
Although the legislation includes certain limited protections for religious organizations and educational institutions, the Agudath Israel leader said that “unfortunately, in the realm of the practical, granting religious organizations permission to act in accordance with the tenets of their faiths – who would have ever thought that such ‘concession’ would ever be necessary in a free country? – is insufficient to protect New Yorkers’ religious rights.
“For one thing, while the law permits religious groups to not recognize same-sex marriages with regard to their employment policies and employees’ benefits, it does nothing to protect such groups from being penalized for their position, for instance being denied government funding for their social service projects.
This is especially surprising, considering that the law does extend such protections with respect to a religious organization’s refusal to make its facilities or services available for a same-sex marriage ceremony. Why wasn’t the same protection against penalty also made available with respect to a religious organization’s employment policies?
“What is more, the law offers no protection whatsoever to religious individuals. If a wedding-hall owner or baker considers a same-sex ceremony to violate his or her sincere religious convictions and opts to not provide services to a same-sex couple, that will, outrageously, constitute a violation of state law.”
Asks Rabbi Zwiebel: “Since when are individuals less entitled to religious liberty protection than organizations and institutions?”
Religious rights ramifications aside, Rabbi Zwiebel averred that “the passage of this law tragically illustrates how flimsy the notion of ‘morality’ is in a secular society.
“What was once universally acknowledged as a deviant lifestyle is now granted the name marriage – just as what was once considered murder is today simply a woman’s constitutionally protected ‘right’ to ‘reproductive freedom.’ When moral standards are disconnected from the eternal truths of Sinai, they have no permanence or value.
"Let us use this shocking development to remind at least ourselves, as believing Jews, that right and wrong are determined not by partisan politicians but by humankind’s Creator.”