Watching the footage of the myriad of couples legally marrying in New York State on Sunday was incredibly personally moving. I spent three years living and working in New York City when I was in school at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.
Many of the couples married on Sunday were my congregants at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah which is the world’s largest gay synagogue, where I served for three years, first as Director of Children’s Education and then as a Cooperberg- Rittmaster Rabbinical Intern. Via Facebook and the variety of news sources, I was able to see so many couples I had come to love and respect as they celebrated their nuptials.
We watched with bated breath as couple after couple emerged from City Hall in New York City and gathered under a beautiful rainbow huppah (created by our friends Scott Robertson and Chet Rojice of Moss Floral) and received blessings by Rabbis Sharon Kleinbaum and Rachel Weiss. Many couples gathered with their adorable children, who were my former students. It was a day full of smiles and laughter and memories a long time in the making.
But sitting here in Minnesota, the day was bitter sweet.
As we are all too aware, Minnesota is far from legalizing marriages between two couples of the same sex. Instead, we are just over a year away from voting on an amendment which would enshrine discrimination in our state constitution. Not only is the amendment redundant (there is legislation already in place currently preventing marriage equality in the state of Minnesota) but it is morally offensive. If love and commitment mean marriage for heterosexual couples, why deny marriage to couples of the same sex who want to make the same proclamation of love and commitment?
I pray that one day we will see marriage equality come to Minnesota.
In the meantime, I believe it is the responsibility of people of faith to speak in defense of loving couples who want to be legally married in the state they live in and love. The work of Minnesotans United for All Families is the holy work that Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel spoke of when he explained that when he marched in the Civil Rights Movement, “his feet were praying.”
Let us work together for the day when all loving couples who want to make a commitment to each other can legally marry in Minnesota.
Then we can gather under a rainbow huppah, sing “siman tov u’mazal tov” and affirm one of the very first teachings in the Torah: “it is not good for a person to be alone.” (Genesis 2:18)
This is a guest post by Rabbi Melissa B. Simon, the Director of Lifelong Learning at Shir Tikvah in south Minneapolis. She also sits on the Faith Council for OutFront Minnesota. Prior to her arrival in the Twin Cities in July 2010, Rabbi Simon was the Cooperberg-Rittmaster Rabbinical Intern at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah.
(Photo: The Rainbow Chuppah in New York, by Scott Robertson)