State Senator Joseph Bruno has capitulated to pressure from Governor Pataki and others and will hold a special post-election legislative session in December to pass a statewide homosexual privileges bill. This disturbing development necessitates taking a hard look at the Torah community’s response to the ever increasing demands of the militant homosexual legislative agenda as it has evolved over the past two decades.
Our leading Orthodox organizations do occasionally issue the requisite press releases and computer-generated letters to city, state and federal office holders when a vote on such legislation is about to be held. And organizational personnel have on occasion actually testified in opposition to such bills. But it has never been an issue that politicians felt the Orthodox would “go to the mat” for.
And the politicians have had good reason to feel that way. When they ignored, as they invariably did, the press releases and the testimony and voted for the homosexual agenda, it continued to be Melevah Malkah and banquet honors as usual for them. The message was clear: “We in the Orthodox community oppose the legislation, but we pragmatically understand if you choose to codify immorality into law. Just give us our religious institutional exemption and keep our government funding coming!”
Is this the level of opposition that was mandated by our Gedolim of yesteryear?
Allow me to offer my response after I first present my credentials in this matter: For more than 20 years I was the pointman for the revered Rav Avigdor Miller, zt”l, regarding pro-life and pro family issues.
In the latter capacity I solicited written halachic guidance and responsa from the preeminent poskim of America: Rav Feinstein (“Politicians must vote no and not ?absent,’ and our people should fill the City Hall chambers to demonstrate publicly that Hashem’s people loathe abomination”); the Be’er Moshe of Debricin (“This is Hashem’s war against Amalek – it is prohibited to vote for, or honor, pro-homosexual politicians and one must protest even if it jeopardizes government funding”; Rav Braun, author of Shaarim Metzuyanim B’halacha (“The chillul Hashem is heightened when righteous gentiles oppose this legislation and the perception is that Jews do not ? therefore whoever learns Gemara, etc., and believes its words… is obligated to oppose and protest even if we won’t win. At least the world will know that Yidden reject deviance and perversion”).
In a signed letter four years ago the esteemed Kashauer Rav and the sainted Skulerner Rebbe signed a letter referring to me as a “Shilucha D’rabonan – B’chol Asar V’asar” and urged strong communal opposition to the homosexual agenda. Finally, a recent sefer about Rav Shach quotes him as telling an American Torah activist to tell his organization that “Daas Torah” is to actively oppose any homosexual legislation because it does affect the frum community and eventually impacts on Israeli society as well.
Thus the answer to the above question is that we surely have fallen well short of the strong uncompromising opposition called for by the aforementioned Gedolim. This may be our last chance to register a strong united Orthodox response which may still derail the post-election plans for instituting statewide homosexual legislation. Here is the action plan:
* Tens of thousands of Jews from across the Orthodox spectrum should jam the phone lines to Gov. Pataki (212-681-4580) and Sen. Bruno (212-298-5501) demanding that they consider the rights of the overwhelming majority of decent family people. Indicate you oppose S.O.N.D.A. S-720 legislation and that it will affect how you vote in many elections to come.
* Our major Orthodox organizations – O.U, Agudah, Young Israel, Igud Harabanim, Agudas Harabanim, Hisachdus Harabanim – and the Vaadei Harabonim of every locale in New York State should unite and strongly request an emergency meeting with Pataki and Bruno, davka before Election Day. Imagine the impact if we can fill the room with 300 rabbis representing 70,000 Orthodox Jewish families.
* Additionally, some Orthodox organizations could use their contacts with the non-Jewish groups they work with on issues like tuition tax credits, as well as with the Salvation Army, the Boy Scouts and various black clergy groups who oppose this immorality. Doing so will ensure the involvement of hundreds of non-Jewish leaders representing hundreds of thousands – perhaps millions – of voters. What a powerful message to current and future politicians!
* Most Orthodox organizations have a fax and mail alert system to their constituent synagogues and lay activists. Use it and have the phone numbers posted and announced from the pulpit. Let his be augmented by an inter-organizational call for saying Tehillim in synagogues and perhaps at a Manhattan Tehillim rally. (Wouldn’t this jive with the quote in this article by Rav Moshe, zt”l, calling for public demonstration?) Imagine the Kiddush Hashem! Millions of Americans would read about a Tehillim gathering specifically beseeching Hashem for the moral clarity of our society.
Are we waiting for the imposition of homosexual marriage, which our Sages say sealed the fate of Sodom and the dor hamabul? Have we forgotten the Rashi we just studied in Noach that this depravity brings on indiscriminate punishment, which kills good and innocent alike?
What are we waiting for? Why do we make rallies on 13th Avenue to honor politicians who promote this immorality rather than using the Avenue for a kinus tefilah?
Each of us hopes and prays that our children should not be chas v’shalom influenced by those who go astray and follow the culture of promiscuity championed by the same crowd promoting this anti-family legislation. In the zechus of our manifested opposition to S.O.N.D.A S-720 may we be zocheh to see only Yiddisheh nachas and kedusha from our progeny.
Rabbi Yehuda Levin is rav of Kehilas Mevakshai Hashem and spokesman for Jews for Morality (jewsformorality.org). He has also represented the Agudas Harabonim and the Igud Harabonim on family related legislation for two decades.