Central Conference of American Rabbis joins federal lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s same-sex marriage banAround the Nation, Online Only, Top Highlights Thursday, June 5th, 2014
NEW YORK — The Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) joined as plaintiff in a pending Federal District Court lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s same-sex marriage ban. Among the suit’s charges is that North Carolina’s ban on same-sex marriage restricts the rights of individuals to freely practice their religion and therefore violates the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.
As it stands, North Carolina law makes it illegal for rabbis, priests, ministers and other religious officials to solemnize the marriage of same-sex couples on an equal basis with opposite sex couples without fear of criminal prosecution and civil penalty.
“This precludes rabbis from participating in one of the fundamental aspects of our Jewish religious traditions with respect to a specific segment of their congregations and communities,” said Rabbi Steven Fox, Chief Executive of the CCAR. “Depriving rabbis of the freedom to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies in North Carolinastigmatizes our religious beliefs and relegates many of our congregants and community members to second-class status.”
The CCAR went on record supporting full civil rights for gays and lesbians in 1993 and, in 1996, the CCAR articulated its support for fully equal civil rights, including marriage, for gay and lesbian couples, and its opposition to governmental efforts to ban gay and lesbian marriage. In 2000, the CCAR passed a resolution entitling Jewish same-sex couples to affirmation through Jewish ritual and supporting rabbinic members who choose to officiate at rituals of marriage for same-sex couples. Today the CCAR provides its members with educational and liturgical resources related to same-sex marriage ceremonies, such as pre-marital counseling, marital vows and wedding rituals.
Commenting on the organization’s commitment to civil rights, Rabbi Richard Block, CCAR President and Senior Rabbi, The Temple – Tifereth Israel, Beachwood, Ohio said: “The CCAR’s support for full civil and religious rights for gays and lesbians is based on the Torah’s assertion that every person is created in God’s image and deserves dignity, equality and respect. We have joined this lawsuit to protect the right of all persons to fully and freely practice their religion as guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution.”
With more than 2,000 rabbis in the US, Canada and beyond, the CCAR is the largest Jewish rabbinic movement in North America and represents an estimated 1.5 million Jews worldwide.
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