Dear TEE community,
In June 1970, a bisexual activist, Brenda Howard, organized what was called the Christopher Street Liberation Day March. What was to become the first Pride March combined celebration, defiance, and political protest. In the years since, the emphasis has moved toward the first element – Pride Marches are now known for their exuberance and festivity – but this year many members of the LGBTQ+ community are expressing their concern that they once again need to be expressions of protest over the treatment of LGBTQ+ people in our country.
As Jews, we should be especially concerned about actions which discriminate against one category of citizens. The Nuremberg Laws were based on exactly the same premise of asserting that certain groups were not worthy of the dignity and rights accorded all others. Currently, there are dozens of bills in state legislatures which would deny LGBTQ+ basic rights, ranging from health care to employment protection. Several of these have already been passed and the impact on individuals and families has been devastating. Imagine that the State Legislature made a law prohibiting Jewish families from adopting children or Jewish couples from receiving the same benefits as other married people. Sadly, this is not a hypothetical. This is how LGBTQ+ Americans are currently being treated and legislated against. We should all be outraged, at the very least because we know that targeting one minority group opens the door to targeting others.
This week our Shabbat services will celebrate Pride and I hope you will join us to affirm and celebrate the significance of LGBTQ+ Jews in our community. But I hope you will also return home re-energized to take action. We need the 79% of Americans who believe it should be illegal to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people in jobs, housing, and other public roles and spaces, to make our voices heard. Both the Union for Reform Judaism and Keshet, a national organization working for LGBTQ+ equality in Jewish life, have resources (below) to support a federal Equality Act. Keshet also has many other resources for those wishing to support the full equality of LGBTQ+ people.
Our tradition teaches that redemption will come when we accord others those human rights and needs – dignity, freedom, equality – we wish for ourselves. Please join in this important work of liberation for us all.
Rabbi Drorah Setel