Today, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (Orthodox Union), issued the following statement:
The Orthodox Union has not changed its position on same-sex marriage legislation. The Orthodox Union has, however, supported the formalization of protections and respect for people of faith, their institutions, and their values.
Earlier this week, the Orthodox Union sent a letter to U.S. Senators as they prepared to consider the “Respect for Marriage Act” (H.R.8404). Some reports about this letter have inaccurately represented the Orthodox Union’s position.
As the letter states, “our religion is emphatic in defining marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman. Our beliefs in this regard are unalterable.” The letter goes on to say that while the Orthodox Union “cannot endorse the main purpose of H.R.8404….we welcome the provisions added to this bill by [the bipartisan] amendment…that appropriately address religious liberty concerns.” It also noted “that Judaism teaches respect for others, and we condemn discrimination against individuals.”
This succinctly summarizes the Orthodox Union’s position. The Orthodox Union does not support same sex marriage legislation. However, the Orthodox Union and its constituency acknowledge the rule of law in this diverse, secular state. Court rulings and legislation have legalized such marriages and granted other rights to LGBT citizens, laws and rights that we acknowledge. Some of those laws have potentially threatened the liberty and autonomy of religious institutions, including synagogues and parochial schools. Thus, the Orthodox Union engaged, in partnership with other faith groups that share our position and concerns, with a bipartisan group of Senators to develop an amendment to the bill which will protect the rights of religious institutions should the legislation be enacted. With the Senators having proposed that amendment, the Orthodox Union expressed support for the amendment – not for the main purpose of the legislation.