LGBTQIA+ Inclusion & Rabbinic Marriage Officiation
The URJ (Union for Reform Judaism) and the CCAR (Central Conference of American Rabbis) both have a long history of support of LGBTQIA+ (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer/Questioning Intersex Asexual and other) rights. Back in 1970, both organizations adopted resolutions calling for the decriminalization of homosexuality, and for an end to discrimination against homosexuals. In 1990, the CCAR resolved that ”all rabbis, regardless of sexual orientation, be afforded the opportunity to fulfill the sacred vocation that they have chosen.” The CCAR resolved, in 1996 to “support the right of gay and lesbian couples to share equally and fully in the rights of civil marriage.” The CCAR made history in 2000 by becoming the first major group of North American clergy to give its support, as an organization, to those members who choose to perform same-gender marriages. This resolution states that a relationship between two people of any LGBTQIA+ identity can serve as the foundation of stable Jewish families and is worthy of affirmation through Jewish ritual.
In 2014, when same-gender marriage became legal in Wisconsin, Rabbi Dena Feingold published an essay on the Beth Hillel website discussing her thoughts on same-gender marriage, her recognition that these marriages are indeed holy, and her willingness to perform such marriages here at Beth Hillel Temple. She wrote, “ I find that the Jewish definition of a marriage, kiddushin, from the root k-d-sh, which means holy- a set apart, committed, sacred union- to be a term that can embrace couples of the same gender…..I further believe that it is time that all liberal Jews recognize Jewish same-gender marriages as deserving of being called and treated as ‘kiddushin,’ holy and sacred partnerships, that are in all ways akin to heterosexual Jewish unions.”
It is reaffirmed that Beth Hillel Temple embraces the concept of “Kulanu”, or “All of us.” All families, whether traditional or nontraditional, and all LGBTQIA+ individuals are respectfully welcomed and invited to participate in the life of the congregation. The Leadership Council of Beth Hillel Temple, fully supports its rabbi(s) offering kiddushin to LGBTQIA+ couples who seek to confirm and celebrate their commitment to one another at Beth Hillel Temple, using the same criteria that the rabbi applies to heterosexual couples.