LGBTQ Judaism

4.5% of all Americans self-identify as a LGBTQ+ as of 2017, which has increased by 0.6% since 2015, according to Gallup, an American analytics company. Since the Supreme Court made the statement to remove the ban on same sex marriage in all 50 states in 2015, attitudes about the LGBTQ+ community have become more accepting, therefore allowing more people to come out. As attitudes change toward the community at rapid rates, religious views – especially Jewish views- have changed as well.

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Although heterosexual relationships were, and are still to this day, considered to be the ideal human relationships according to rabbinic leaders, by the mid-1990s the Reform’s movement had fully endorsed same-sex marriage (Powers). This was nearly two decades before it became legal in the United States. These views differ sharply between the denominational lines of Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox Judaism, regarding acceptance, marriage, and ordaining LGBTQ+ members.

The Reform movement was the first major denomination to take a liberal position toward homosexuality (MJL). Gay marriage was endorsed by the rabbinate, which most generally refers to the office or function of a rabbi, in 1996 and the movement’s rabbinical school stopped discriminating against gay applicants in 1990 (MJL). The community is committed to securing civil rights for LGBTQ+ individuals, including the right to civil marriage. Due to the basic belief that all human beings are created in the Divine image, it is thought:

Regardless of context, discrimination against any person arising from apathy, insensitivity, ignorance, fear, or hatred is inconsistent with this fundamental belief. We oppose discrimination against all [LGBTQ individuals], for the stamp of the Divine is present in each and every one of us.

The two texts that are most often cited are both found in Leviticus. “Do not lie with a male as one lies with a woman; it is an abhorrence” (Leviticus 18:22) and “If a man lies with a male as one lies with a woman, the two of them have done an abhorrent thing; they shall be put to death – their blood guilt is upon them” (Leviticus 20:13). The conflict that develops from these verses and the beliefs of this denomination can be quiet extreme. The community looks to the verse that sits directly between those two to resolve the conflict between the harsh laws and the moral obligation to speak out against injustice, Leviticus 19:18, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

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