Governor Linda Lingle has a serious issue facing her. She has been given the opportunity to increase the rights of the gay citizens of Hawaii by approving civil unions. They will still be separate, which is never equal, but their lives will be improved by some degree. Unfortunately, she is seeking advice from two wholly unqualified individuals.
Rabbis Itchel Krasnjansky and Peter Schaktman hail from different branches of Judaism and hold starkly contrasting views on whether same-sex couples should be permitted to form civil unions in Hawaii.
What they have in common is the ear of Republican Gov. Linda Lingle, who has until June 21 to announce whether she may veto the only pending civil unions legislation in the nation.
Neither of these rabbis deserve to be consulted on this issue. Lingle is herself Jewish, but she’s also the head of a secular state in a secular country that is premised in secular notions and secular law. But even if the U.S. government was religious, no justification has been given that shows any theologian of any flavor has done anything to address any important issues. Theology is merely for those who already agree on a given premise – if A is true, then B. But no one has given any evidence for A. We’re all still waiting.
But Schaktman, who leads the Reform Temple Emanu-El, insists Judaism teaches that all people regardless of sexual orientation are and should be treated as “children of God,” and thus should not face discrimination.
“Civil unions are a legal arrangement,” he said. “Therefore, anyone who uses religion to oppose civil unions is purely using religion to further homophobia.”
Schaktman gets this all technically right for the most part. Judaism may well teach that all people are children of God. How he concludes they ought not face discrimination is subjective (especially considering what a tribal book the Torah is), but he can make a rational argument for the position. Unfortunately, that’s still if everyone agrees that Judaism is a valid source of knowledge. Since it offers no reliable methods of inquiry or useful, defined tools for coming to consistent, objective conclusions, I have to reject it.
And Schaktman gets it right that civil unions are purely legal arrangements and anyone opposing them are bigots. But he ought to go one step further. Marriage is purely a legal arrangement in the eyes of the government. People put their own values into what marriage is, but that’s irrelevant here. If marriage was purely a religious institution, then which one? Most Americans would say Christian, but the government of Hawaii is showing she clearly disagrees when she consults two rabbis. And even if it’s possible to agree on marriage being about just one religion, the institution is still rife with inconsistency when it allows other religious members (as well as the non-religious atheists, agnostics, humanists, and deists) to marry. This makes it pretty obvious that this isn’t merely about marriage being based in religion; it’s about bigotry and homophobia and sexual immaturity (the latter being one of the biggest hallmarks of religion).
Filed under: News, Religions, Rights | Tagged: Civil Unions, Hawaii, Itchel Krasnjansky, Judaism, Linda Lingle, Peter Schaktman, Reform Temple Emanu-El | 10 Comments »