9 Dec 2011
The Australian Jewish News Sydney edition
Mixed reaction to marriage policy
AUSTRALIAN Labor’s adoption of same-sex marriage as party policy at its conference last weekend has elicited a mix of reactions from the Jewish community.
The resolution passed with the caveat that Labor MPS would be allowed a conscience vote on the issue, which may make it difficult for the legislation to pass when it is brought before the House.
Scott Whitmont, who with partner Christopher Whitmont-stein was part of the first Australian faithsanctioned same-sex commitment ceremony at Emanuel Synagogue in September 2008, said the resolution was still a positive one.
“I think that any step that moves us towards recognition of the basic human right of allowing same-sex couples to have the same legal recognition as heterosexual couples, is a good thing,” he said.
J4ME (Jews for Marriage Equality) founder and Dayenu president Roy Freeman attended an equal marriage rally on Saturday, timed to coincide with the debate.
“There was an amazing atmosphere at the rally, with the largest turn-out of any marriage rally so far,” he said. “There was a real sense of achievement, but also of frustration with the conscience vote decision. The Labor Party have given with one hand, but taken away with the other.”
Union for Progressive Judaism executive director Steve Denenberg said there was no reason for Australian law to limit or discriminate against the civil or legal rights of any individual or group.
“The UPJ together with the members of the Moetzah, the Rabbinic Council of Progressive Rabbis of Australia, Asia and New Zealand, support marriage equality under Australian law and welcome the decision of the Australian Labor Party to do the same,” he said.
The Organisation of Rabbis of Australasia (ORA) continues to oppose any change in legislation.
In a statement, the ORA said it intended no discrimination towards the gay community, but wished to uphold the sanctity of marriage.
“The institution of marriage and family life, as defined and practised for thousands of years as between a man and a woman, a father and a mother, respectively, is far too important and essential to the bedrock of society and civilisation as we know it to be undermined by those who presume to redefine its essence,” ORA said.
Lead singer of The Potbelleez, Ilan Kidron, has declared his support for marriage equality: “I believe that everybody should be able to make the same decisions about marriage. As long as same-sex couples are denied the right of marriage, their relationships will be considered second-rate and they and their families will be pushed aside. Not so long ago, the union of rich and poor, black and white, was outlawed. So why, when our society has come so far, do we still not let love be love? The Government must do the right thing and allow all Australian couples to enjoy equal opportunities under Federal law. We are a so-called free country. People are people. Love is love.”
Roy Freeman, founder of J4ME (the Jewish Community supporting Marriage Equality), welcomed Ilan’s support. “It’s great to see high-profile members of the Jewish community showing their support for marriage equality. Many people only hear the one-sided views of a small number of Orthodox Rabbis who continue to deride homosexuality. Thankfully those Rabbis are a small (but vocal) minority. The majority of our community supports civil rights, including marriage equality for same-sex couples.”
22 Jul 2011
The Australian Jewish News Melbourne edition
Kevin Rudd’s sister slammed over slur
JEWISH leaders have criticised Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd’s sister for comparing the gay-marriage lobby to Nazi mass murderers.
In comments made to The Australian last week, Loree Rudd threatened to quit the Australian Labor Party if it backs gay marriage at its national conference in December. The devout Christian also accused some of the party’s members of being brainwashed by a “global gay Gestapo”.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has repeatedly expressed her opposition to same-sex marriage and has indicated her Government will make no changes to the Marriage Act. Nonetheless, many ALP members and supporters are urging her to reconsider her position.
While not weighing into the political debate, the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission (ADC), Australia’s peak Jewish human rights body, called for Loree Rudd to apologise for the comparison between policy advocates and Nazis.
“It is completely unacceptable for anyone to co-opt and trivialise the name of one of the most active and feared arms of the Nazi machinery for their own political purposes,” ADC president Anton Block told the media.
“The Gestapo was directly responsible for the murders of Jewish, Romani, homosexual and disabled people. To use its name in this context shows a level of ignorance and insensitivity that has no place in contemporary political discourse.”
Roy Freeman, founder of J4ME, a Jewish group advocating for same-sex marriage, called Rudd’s comments “offensive and obviously untrue”.
“This kind of language is unacceptable in 21st-century Australia,” he told The AJN. “Those who glibly throw around such comparisons diminish the crimes committed by the Nazis and attempt to demonise the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) community.”
NSW Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive officer Vic Alhadeff told media, “Drawing a comparison between advocates of gay marriage and the Gestapo is insensitive and counterproductive.”
How cool is this? There’s a new Jew on the block and it’s got a groovy message.
Check out the web site: www.j4me.org.au. You can join the J4ME Facebook page there and also show your support either as a member of the Jewish community or as a supporter from beyond.
Send the message that the only fair and dignified way to treat all Australians is with equality.