“The arc of history bends slowly, but it bends toward justice” — IF we bend it:
A rush of joy that President Obama has stepped across the line into full support of equality in marriage.
In 2000, New Menorah, the print magazine I then edited, published a special issue with articles from many perspectives, all affirming the legitimacy of Jewish same-sex marriage (and civil same-sex marriage) in this epoch of Judaism. (New Menorah had urged full equality for gay men and lesbians in Jewish and general life since 1985, but this was a deliberate attempt to push for change in the broader Jewish community.)
With that in mind, we sent many copies of our special issue to the national gathering of Reform rabbis that met shortly after we published it. Several rabbis told us after the gathering that New Menorah had had an important effect on the rabbis present, who then did give their collective permission to any members who wished to preside over same-sex covenants and marriages. (Even then, please note, permission rather than whole-hearted approval and celebration.) You can see those New Menorah articles and others on marriage by clicking here.
That rabbinical convention was held in Greensboro, NC — the starting-point of the sit-in movement 40 years before — and now, unhappily I take note, in the state that just voted to forbid same-sex marriage. So even in this moment, a mix of joy and grief. And above all, a reaffirmation of the importance of determination, perseverance, in achieving social change.
From important but uncertain steps among Reform rabbis to certainty in the President of the United States: one dozen years.
Make a recurring donation and receive Freedom Journeys as our token of appreciation. Click here for more info about the book. Freedom Journeys is a deep meditation on the timeless—and timely—relevance of the Exodus narrative. In the grand tradition of mystical exegesis, Waskow and Berman reflect upon Exodus not only as an event that happened “then” and “there”, but a paradigm of movement that is happening here and in the now, for all of us, Jew and Muslim, Black and White, male and female. —Omid Safi, professor of Islamic studies, University of North Carolina.