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Posts Tagged ‘gay marriage’

State Senator Storobin on Gay Marriage and Simcha Felder as an Opponent

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

In the first of a series of Jewish Press Forum videos, the newspaper recently sat down with Republican State Senator David Storobin in its Brooklyn offices. In the interview, conducted by Jewish Press editorial staffer Eli Chomsky, Storobin spoke about overturning gay marriage, the “Christine Quinn agenda,” and why it might be more difficult to face the little-known Abraham Tischler, 20, than the establishment candidate Simcha Felder (Democratic Party opponents) in this November’s general election for a seat in the State Senate’s new “Super Jewish” district. The interview and video have been picked up by several websites, including City & State and New York Observer’s Politicker blog.

Before jumping into politics, Storobin spoke about several issues that are pressing to many in New York City’s Jewish community. Although courts in New York have ruled that banning gay marriage would be unconstitutional, Storobin expressed confidence that overturning the bill in the state legislature is possible. “Almost every idea, when first presented, is thrown out and seen as impossible,” he said, “including my own candidacy.”

Gay marriage began as civil unions, then became marriage, and now it is being taught to schoolchildren, he said, and he believes it is time to take a stand. “Even if the only thing that we do is stop it at gay marriage, that already is a significant achievement.”

Asked by Chomsky about school vouchers, the state senator responded that he is very hopeful about implementing the school voucher program in New York, and that he wants to be in line with the needs of the people of his district. He said that 70-80 percent of liberals who vote Democrat support school vouchers. “Most politicians are trying to suppress this issue because it would force them to decide whether they stand with their labor union or with their voters.”

Storobin said that he chose to run for the State Senate instead of the Assembly because in the latter, he would be in the minority. “In the Senate it pays to be a Republican and my district leans more towards the Republican Party,” he said, based on the number of votes garnered by GOP presidential nominee John McCain, who won a little over 60 percent of the district in 2008. And, as Storobin pointed out, in the race for New York governor in November 2010, Carl Paladino – whose campaign featured his heavy opposition to gay marriage – lost Brooklyn by a 6-1 margin to Andrew Cuomo, but won handily in the 48th Assembly district, which includes most of Boro Park.

According to Storobin, his opponent in March’s State Senate special election, Councilman Lew Fidler, is a liberal Democrat who supports President Obama and “the Christine Quinn agenda.” Storobin noted that Felder also supports both. “People tend to assume that all frum Jews are conservative,” remarked Storobin, as if political views were all based on religious standing, “but that is not the case.” Through his past voting record, Felder has clearly demonsrated that he is no conservative, Storobin added.

Storobin said that he believes Felder is “too out of touch with the needs of the people in his district….Do the people of this district want to support Democrats so that Nancy Pelosi can become speaker? And are they going to support Barack Obama?” Storobin mentioned that Felder brought New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn to a Bais Yaakov girls school and pointed to her as a role model for the students. “I bet none of the parents would agree with him,” Storobin said. “Christine Quinn’s lifestyle is not what they would choose for their girls.”

Many believe that as an Orthodox Jew, Felder may presume that he has the Orthodox vote wrapped up. But Democrat David Weprin’s loss last fall against Bob Turner for an open New York congressional seat may be instructive, political observers warn. Many Orthodox voters turned away from the Orthodox Weprin due to his strong support of gay marriage.

As to whom he’d rather square off against in November, Felder or Tischler, Storobin said, “Tischler has more conservative values, so he might be more difficult to fight with on ideological issues. I don’t disagree with Tischler nearly as much as I disagree with Simcha Felder.”

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach: What If Government Recognized Civil Unions, Left Marriage to Religion?

Monday, May 14th, 2012

Could a governmental retreat from “marriage” finally heal the deep schism that has divided and immobilized this country by an intractable values volley over gay relationships?

As many of you have read, since running for Congress I have emphasized that I want to move away from the great social-sexual battles that this country has engaged in over the past forty-odd years, which – in my opinion – has served to distract us from the real values challenges that confront us. The greatest threat to the future of the American family is not gay marriage but rather divorce. However, because we obsess over gay marriage, we rarely ever hear the word divorce being uttered by political leaders. Now, with President Obama coming out to support gay marriage and Mitt Romney continuing to assert his opposition to gay marriage by continuing to define marriage as a union that can only take place between one man and one woman, I propose a truce.

What if government withdrew from the marriage business altogether, and provided only Civil Unions to two consenting adults wishing to unify their lives, leaving the spirituality of the union to other entities to recognize, name, sanctify, and define? These Civil Unions would equally assure that all couples receive all the legal entitlements that have previously been enjoyed by those who have been “married,” such as hospital visitation rights and end-of life decisions, insurance benefits,  and tax benefits. After all, what business does the government have entering a church, synagogue or mosque to legitimize or define the spiritual nature of a person’s marriage? We are supposed to have separation of church and state in America.

If the couple wishes to have their marriage consecrated to a more spiritual purpose, (e.g. “’til death do us part”, “for all eternity,”  “in the name of Jesus Christ,” “according to the laws of Moses and Israel,”  “in sickness and in health,” fidelity, loyalty etc.) they will choose to have a religious ceremony in addition to the civil ceremony. This additional ceremony would extend beyond just having legal rights conferred by Civil Unions, and would reflect the couple’s individual spiritual or religious convictions. They would go before a rabbi, a priest, a minister, or any other spiritual leader of their choice for a religious ceremony. The ceremony, and in fact the semantic definition of their union, would be defined by and consistent with that religious groups’ values.

This proposal might just allow nearly everyone to win, a ”One Size Fits All”  solution to the gay marriage narrative that has hijacked the political landscape, created ever deepening divides in the nation, and has served to be only destructive and distracting from far greater social values issues facing this country. The benefits to this proposal are, first and foremost, that no one would receive either preferential treatment or any discrimination when it comes to the government’s recognition of the legal rights of the union of any couple. Furthermore, there would be no need to redefine marriage, as each group would have the authority to define or expand the meaning of their union according to their particular religious tradition. This solution would reduce the role of government, which should not be involved in religious choices. People who want to have a spiritual component to their civil union can have whatever ceremony they desire within whatever religious context they choose, and name the union in spiritual terminology that best speaks to their religious convictions.

Far from harming religion, I believe that this change would even promote non-involved, non-religious people to entertain the concept of how religion can enhance and enrich one’s life, and be an invitation to engage in further religious learning, traditions, communities, and beliefs. I think that when people are forced to confront the choice of wanting merely a government-recognized civil union before a Justice of the Peace which addresses only  legal status issues, or the opportunity to imbue their union with a deeper, more eternal, spiritual dimension,  they would see the benefit of having something with greater holiness impact their union. And they would be forced to confront the difference between a mere legal synthesis versus the a spiritual orchestration of two haves into one whole. In other words, once they are forced to start thinking about their “vows” they might just drift further into faith and religion.

The bottom line with this proposal is that we would remove the offense of those who can marry and those who cannot, the government would retreat further from our lives, and one of the great battles that have raged in America could be put behind us so that we can focus, finally, on curbing divorce, keeping husbands and wives together, and keeping kids out of custody battles rather than just always fighting about gay marriage.

I recognize that for those who oppose gay civil unions this would still not be a solution. However, I vehemently disagree with their opposition.  Whom does it bother to have gay couples granted the decency to visit each other in hospital during serious illness, making end-of-life decisions, and receiving tax benefits as a couple? Is it not worthwhile to put behind us the questions of dual insurance coverage in order to have this terribly divisive issue finally settled? By putting the gay marriage debate behind us we can finally focus on the real problem: straight people do not seem to either want to marry, and once they get married they find it difficult to remain married.

North Carolina Bans Gay Marriage

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

North Carolina approved a constitutional amendment on Tuesday defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman, eliminating the possibility of same-sex marriages in the state.

Unofficial returns showed voters passing the amendment with 61 percent of the vote, making North Carolina the 30th state to adopt a ban on gay marriage.

Campaigning against the amendment included a recorded phone message by former President Bill Clinton, who urged voters to oppose the amendment.

Campaign spokesman for President Barak Obama called the ban “divisive and discriminatory”.

Vatican Rep Wants Alliance With Jews, Muslims, to Combat Gay Marriage

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

A Vatican representative has issued a call for the world’s foremost religions to unite to take a stand against gay marriage.

Archbishop Antonio Mennini, the “Apostolic Nuncio” (Vatican representative) to Great Britain has proposed enlisting the help of all Christian denominations, as well as Jews and Muslims, to oppose the proposition of legalizing gay marriage in England.

In an address to Catholic bishops from England and Wales, Mennini warned against political and cultural influences forcing reforms on religion, and suggested an alliance with Jews and Muslims in order to combat the immorality of homosexual marriage.

“It seems to me that, concerning the institution of marriage, and indeed the sanctity of human life, we have much in common with the position of the Jewish community, the Chief Rabbi and many of the more significant representatives of Islam,” the Archbishop said, according to a report in Britains’s Telegraph newspaper.

Local Quakers, Buddhists, and members of the Pagan Federation have already publicly supported the right of religious leaders to decline to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies, although their position supports basic freedom of clergy members to reject or support the marriages.

Mennini’s comments come after a series of high-level discussions between Muslim and Jewish leaders and Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone, who is investigating the possibility of legalizing gay marriage in the UK.

For now, English and Scottish Muslim groups, imams, and councils have opposed the plan to legalize gay marriage, as has the head of the Network of Sikh Organisations.

Liberal and Reform synagogues, on the other hand, have expressed support for same-sex marriages.  Rabbis in the main United Synagogues have come out against the proposal.  Soon-to-be-retired Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks has not come out publicly against the measure, but friend and advisor Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet of Mill Hill United Synagogue in north London called the potential legislation an “assault” on religious values.

Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark told the Telegraph that while no official contact has yet been made between the Catholic Church and Jewish groups, “We will work with anyone who agrees with us that to redefine marriage is not a good thing for society and will lead to more confusion.”  He added that the Church of England is onboard with the Catholic Church’s position.

Vouchers, Gay Marriage And Black-Jewish Relations: An Interview With New York Governor David Paterson

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

David Paterson is the fourth African American and only the second legally blind governor in U.S. history. The son of former New York Secretary of State Basil Paterson, he spent 20 years in New York’s state senate before being chosen as Eliot Spitzer’s running mate for the 2006 New York gubernatorial election. He became governor on March 17, 2008 after Spitzer resigned.

The Jewish Press recently spoke with Paterson about matters of interest to New York’s Jewish community.

The Jewish Press: Many Orthodox Jews, and Catholics for that matter, pay taxes for a public school system they don’t use. Is there any hope of a school voucher program being introduced and pushed through the legislature under your administration?

Paterson: This is an issue I have not fully embraced, but I certainly embrace more than when I first started. I actually went to the Alliance For School Choice conference in August of 2005, and I was sitting in one of the meetings, and I thought, “You know, I think I’m the only person in this room who voted for Kerry!”

But charter schools are probably the closest that we’re going to get to [school vouchers] right now, and I’ve been a pretty big charter school advocate to this point.

But of course as a government official I have to embrace the public school system.

So charter schools, but not necessarily school vouchers.

Not necessarily school vouchers because what happens is if you take enough money out of the public system, you’ve destroyed it.

But many people argue that if the government provided vouchers to all parents, schools would have to compete with one another, and all schools – both public and private – would improve educationally and thrive.

It’s an argument I’m still wrestling with because even with the charter schools around Albany, they opened up so many charter schools that they almost shut down the public school system.

Remember, what you’re doing now is what they eliminated in the desegregation era. Desegregation wasn’t just racial equality; part of desegregation was that the South couldn’t support two school systems. And my question is: Can we do it? Now, I know we can’t do it right now, but when we get past the recession, that’s a conversation we certainly should have.

The Bible clearly opposes homosexual behavior, calling it an “abomination.” Yet you are currently trying to push a bill through New York’s legislature, which would legalize gay marriage. Why?

First of all, I think we can agree that there is a dispute on what the Bible says about a lot of things.

But to some extent we’ve all, regardless of how we feel personally – and I was christened Catholic, by the way – become tolerant of the fact that we have a lot of gay and lesbian citizens who live in our society. So now we get to the legal question – it’s not a biblical question but a legal one: If these people live together, what rights do they have?

The bigger issue, to be perfectly honest, is what [opposition to gay marriage] does to our culture. In other words, suppose you work at an office where someone is gay and this person is getting married. They’re having a reception in the office for the person and you don’t go to the reception because the Bible says that it’s an abomination. What kind of ramifications does this have? When it’s time for this person to be promoted, maybe he doesn’t get promoted because everybody stopped liking him because their religion teaches them that that’s wrong.

Relations between the African American and Jewish communities have improved since 1985 when you first entered politics. How do you account for the tension and animosity of those days?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/interviews-and-profiles/vouchers-gay-marriage-and-black-jewish-relations-an-interview-with-new-york-governor-david-paterson/2009/11/04/

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