Vice President Biden Supports Marriage Equality
In the last 36 hours, Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan have both “come out” for marriage equality. In a Meet the Press interview, Vice President Biden said, “I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women and heterosexual men marrying women are entitled to the same exact rights. All the civil rights, all the civil liberties. And quite frankly I don’t see much of a distinction beyond that.” These statements follow the November 2011 comments of Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan in which he stated his support for marriage equality as well.
However, the Obama administration and the Obama re-election campaign are now trying to walk back Vice President Biden’s comments. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney claimed that Vice President Biden’s statement was being “misinterpreted” and he was in reality only echoing the President’s support for equal rights for same-sex couples. Carney also said that he had no updates about the President’s opinion on marriage equality – which the President opposes but says he’s “evolving” on (for almost two years now).
Some have supposed that this development may be a sign that the President may soon announce he has finally “evolved” on the issue and now supports marriage equality. But, until he does, he – and his administration and campaign – will continue to send the message that LGBT Americans are worth less than straight Americans.
Jewish values tell us otherwise. We are guided by the very basic belief that all human beings are created b’tselem Elohim (in the Divine image), as it says in Genesis 1:27, “And God created humans in God’s own image, in the image of God, God created them; male and female God created them.” In March 2000, the Central Conference of American Rabbis made history by becoming the first major group of North American clergy, as an organization, to give its support to those in its ranks choosing to perform same-gender ceremonies. The resolution supports the decision of individual rabbis to officiate at same-gender ceremonies and cites as part of its reasoning the conclusion that “kedushah [holiness] may be present in committed same gender relationships between two Jews.”
This support for marriage equality within Judaism has been extended to support for marriage equality for all Americans. Reform Jewish Voice of New York State was instrumental in mobilizing faith voices in support of marriage equality in New York, and Reform Jews are raising their voices in places such as Maine and Maryland where similar legislation is being considered. On a national level, we will continue to call on Congress to repeal the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” and call on President Obama to join Vice President Biden, Secretary Duncan and Secretary Donovan in announcing his support for marriage equality.