By Rabbi Erin Boxt
On Sunday, April 26, I joined many other faith leaders at Unity North Church in Marietta to hold a prayer vigil in support of marriage equality.
This issue — the equality of all couples — is central to my belief system as a Jew and as a rabbi. As a member of the Cobb Interfaith Spiritual Leaders, I wanted to stand by my colleagues and support those in our community who are treated differently, just because they are “different.” As a Jew, I understand what it means to be considered the “other.” It is because of this that I choose to stand up and fight for any group of people who find themselves on the outside looking in.
The U.S. Supreme Court on April 28 heard hours of arguments from both sides (those in favor and those against marriage equality). The decision that stands before them now is one that will greatly affect thousands, if not millions, of Americans.
Imagine being told that you cannot make a medical decision regarding your child because the state you live in does not recognize your rights as the parent of that child. Imagine being told that you will not be allowed to be present at the bedside of your sick loved one because you are not legally considered family. There are many cases in the United States where this kind of scenario occurs. And it is totally wrong.
As a rabbi, I have always fought for the rights and equality of all. I have read many columns and arguments of those who disagree with me. It seems the argument against marriage equality for the LGBTQI community comes down to two main points: (1) The Bible calls it an “abomination”; and (2) the perception of marriage has been the way it is for so long that it would be unwise to rush into a decision that changes it.
In response to what the Bible says, I can only reply that there are many instances in the Bible in which I would disagree with the statement being made. For example, should I take an unruly child outside town and allow the elders of my community to stone him to death? Of course, this is only one example; the Bible is a living document, which means we have a responsibility to dialogue with it and not find ourselves stuck in ancient history.
As for the second point, the perception of marriage being the way it is for so many years, well, times change, and as times change, so should the perception of equality under the law. Too many of my friends and colleagues find themselves in ridiculously difficult situations because of this perception of marriage.
I do not purport to know all of the answers, and I am certainly willing to have a conversation with someone who disagrees with me. However, when it comes to the reality (or lack thereof) of equality, there can be no misinterpretation. Marriage equality means all couples should have the right be married and share the same benefits as everyone else. For me, this is not negotiable. I only hope the Supreme Court makes the right decision and makes marriage equality truly equal under the law.
Rabbi Erin Boxt is one of the spiritual leaders of Temple Kol Emeth in East Cobb.