“The separation of church and state is what enables me to practice my religion freely – and we have a responsibility to welcome gays into our community.” says Rabbi Avi Weiss, an orthodox rabbi.
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that same-sex couples can marry under civil law throughout the United States. I support this decision.
My support may come as a surprise because I am an Orthodox rabbi. I do not perform nor participate in same-sex weddings, as it runs contrary to my religious commitments.
But the Supreme Court ruling addresses civil law, not religious law. As a strong proponent of the separation of church and state, I believe religion should not dictate the law of the land.
Nor should the law of the land criminalize my refusal to conduct gay weddings. Indeed, in my almost 50 years in the rabbinate no civil law has forced me to perform any wedding or religious service that runs contrary to my religious convictions.
Blurring the lines between church and state jeopardizes freedom of religion. Religious minorities could be especially vulnerable to the greater power of the religious majority, who could shape and inform decisions of the civil courts. What, for example, would the reaction of the Jewish community be if the Supreme Court were to mandate that students pledge allegiance to Jesus in public schools?