Australian orthodox rabbis interfering in civil marriage (again)!

A little over three years ago, in April 2012, orthodox rabbis in Sydney and Melbourne submitted letters to a Senate enquiry, opposing marriage equality.

As reported in yesterday’s The Australian (June 9 2015), rabbis are among 38 signatories to a letter (PDF) addressed to the Prime Minister opposing marriage equality.  The three Orthodox rabbis, one from Melbourne and two from Sydney, are:

Rabbi Mordechai Gutnick
President Rabbinical Council of Victoria
Senior Dayan – Melbourne Beth Din (Jewish Ecclesiastical Court)

Rabbi Moshe D Gutnick
Senior Dayan – Sydney Beth Din

Rabbi Yehoram Ulman
President Rabbinical Council of NSW
Senior Dayan – Sydney Beth Din

Aleph Melbourne notes that any proposed changes to the Marriage Act to broaden the definition of marriage from “one man and one woman” to wording similar to “two people” will safeguard ministers of religion and not require them to perform marriages between two people of the same-sex.

As it stands, ministers of religion are authorised to refuse to marry any two people, a protection that would carry through with proposed marriage equality amendments.

Exactly why these rabbis are opposing changes to the Marriage Act is incomprehensible in terms of their religious obligations, as any such changes will have no impact on their professional responsibilities.  Therefore is would seem that these rabbis are commenting on matters of civil law beyond their purview, which begs the question: why?

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