Rabbi Lisa Edwards of the LGBT synagogue Beth Chaim Chadashim in Los Angeles, has published a drash on this week’s Torah Portion K’doshim (Lev. 19:1-20:27), a portion that includes LGBTQ’s second dreaded verse, “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—and they retain bloodguilt Lev. 20:13).”
Nice pun, I thought, “just marriage.” The oft-quoted Torah verse, “justice, justice shall you pursue” (Deuteronomy 16:20) came to mind.
And of course, times have indeed changed; I need only look at the number of weddings on my calendar since last summer (or at the number of new babies in our congregation!) to see how the United States Supreme Court’s toppling of DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) has affected life in the LGBTQ community.
On the other hand, it’s a rare week when I don’t get a “hit” of the homophobia or naiveté (sometimes willful) that remains. How quickly people think legalized marriage in some places solves all problems in all places. A quick scan of Web sites such as the Williams Institute (williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/research), Keshet (keshetonline.org) or Lambda Legal (lambdalegal.org) tells a different tale. There, statistics and anecdotes still report sad stories of bullying, rejection, suicide and hate crimes.
The source of much of this ongoing pain remains one Torah verse from this week’s portion, Kedoshim: “If a man lies with a male as one lies with a woman, the two of them have done an abhorrent thing; mot yu-ma-tu, they will surely die, d’mei-hem bam, their blood upon them” (Leviticus 20:13).
We shall indeed die, blood upon us, if that verse remains an invitation to reject or kill us.