Modern Orthodox Jews are rightly confounded in finding the correct response to the recent Supreme Court decision affirming gay marriage as a constitutional right.
The political fight is now over and all that is left is our reaction. How do we, as individuals, see this historic moment? I believe that, ultimately, this boils down to a fundamental issue of attitudes that threatens lives, families and the future of the Jewish community.
There are, however, reasons to rejoice at the decision. From one perspective, this is a victory for a previously marginalized minority. As a minority in every country in the world, Orthodox Jews sympathize with this newfound constitutional protection. From another perspective, we applaud this limit imposed on government’s involvement in family matters. We do not want government bureaucrats telling us how to live our lives. From yet another perspective, that of friends and family of gay people who struggle to find happiness, we lovingly share in their moment of joy. But there is one more perspective we proudly carry, that of the Torah.
We cannot, and do not wish to, forget that the Torah unequivocally forbids homosexual relations and marriages in Genesis 2, Leviticus 18 and Chullin 92. We recognize that clever attempts by liberal scholars to reinterpret these passages contradict all authoritative religious texts. Instead, we are forced to juggle these clashing perspectives and emotions, no easy task. Perhaps we can take comfort that this is an age-old problem, dating back to the time of the giving of the Torah.
The Torah (Num. 11:10) tells us that “Moshe heard the people weeping, family by family.” The Gemara (Yoma 75a) interprets this as meaning that the people were crying “about family matters,” the newly forbidden relationships. Rashi (ad loc., sv. hanach) explains that the crying was about the new prohibitions above and beyond the seven Noahide commandments. This is implied in that Gemara and explicitly stated in the Yerushalmi (Ta’anis 5:4).