Some twenty years ago, I decided I wanted to be a rabbi and, at the same time, live my life the way I was born. In the early 90’s, the Conservative movement in my native Argentina would not ordain openly LGBT clergy, so the choice was made for me: I had to come to America in pursuit of my dream. Like countless Jews before me, I came to America with the hope to find fulfillment and a better life.
Two decades later, my husband Kris and I are denied legal recognition in Indiana – ironically same-sex marriage is now legal in Argentina! For more than 12 years now, Hoosiers have wrestled with the issue of granting equal legal rights to same-gender couples. HJR-6, the proposed Indiana constitutional amendment to ban same-sex unions of any kind, is hurtful to our family. Being LGBT does not disqualify me, however, to speak against HJR-6. Judaism demands from me that I speak against this unfair legislation.
Those who support it claim that the people should decide and thus it should be brought up for a vote in 2014. As a Jew, I am cognizant that we Jews have been the target of much unfair legal treatment through the centuries and that, when left to the majority to decide our fate, we never fared well. The Jewish people knows that discrimination should not be legislated and, least of all, enshrined in the state constitution.
As Reform Jews, we have a special relationship with movements that have promoted social change. Even though most of us were not African-American and were not targeted by Jim Crow laws, our movement played a vital role in championing Civil Rights. We knew then, as we know today, that laws designed to exclude a certain group of citizens go against Jewish values. These laws are contrary to our Torah that teaches love for our neighbor and for the stranger among us, as well as challenges us to treat others as THEY would like to be treated; that we are all created betzelem elohim, in the image of God, and therefore deserving fairness and compassion.
It is because of my Jewish faith and values that on November 18 I travelled to Indianapolis at the start of a new legislative session (joined by clergy from all over the state) to deliver a clear message to our lawmakers: Judaism will not stand idle while unfair and exclusionary treatment of a group of citizens is insinuated into our state constitution. It was a powerful event and we pray that it touched the hearts of our representatives.
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