Just four days after the NFTY General Assembly unanimously reaffirmed NFTY’s support of same sex marriage, the Supreme Court deems DOMA unconstitutional.
This action by the Supreme Court affects over 1,000 laws which now grant federal rights and benefits to same-sex couples. This ruling is both bold and overdue in the eyes of NFTY teen leaders.
The announcement came in the middle of the day while participants at the URJ Kutz Camp in Warwick, NY were in their morning learning sessions. A feeling of pride and hope fell over the camp and these sentiments are reflected in these statements from members of the Kutz community.
“This is not a victory for the LGBT community. It is not a victory for the NFTY community. This is a victory for the world community. I am proud to be a part of a movement that celebrates the significance of this ruling while at the same time heads the call to action to make even more progress,” says Andrew Keene, NFTY President.
Beth Rodin, NFTY’s Director of Education and Special Projects comments, “This issue has been close to our hearts in the NFTY Community for 30 years. NFTY first passed legislation in 1983 resolving that “homosexuals are entitled to equal protection under the law, and NFTY, in accordance, opposes discrimination against homosexuals and urges the public to affirm this opposition…”. Since then, we have passed multiple resolutions (in 1993, 2003 and most recently in 2013) and taken movement-wide action supporting equal rights for members of the LGBT+ community. We are always proud to see more communities around North America join us in affirming this truth – that individuals of all sexual orientations deserve the same protection and rights.”
Kate N., a Resident Advisor at the URJ Kutz camp shares, “I was sitting next to a close friend, a member of the gay community, while getting live updates about DOMA during a meeting this morning and I couldn’t help but smile. I was overjoyed by the sense of pride I felt for my country and by the happiness I felt for my friend who was one step closer to the equality he deserves.”
Two participants in the Social Justice Major at the URJ Kutz Camp also weighed in on today’s announcement.
Ari L. from NFTY-CAR comments, “I think this finally opens up the door to really looking at gay marriage, not only statewide but nationally.”
“I was overcome with emotion when I heard that the legislative bodies that we, as a movement, so often call upon for justice have decided to recognize the rights of the LGBT community,” adds NFTY Social Action Vice President Gordon Kaye. “NFTY recently reaffirmed it’s commitment to this community through the unanimous passage of a resolution concerning LGBT rights and I cannot express how proud I am to be a part of an organization that represents the rights of all it’s members to their individual pursuit of happiness.”
Additionally Alaina J. from NFTY-MV adds, “I think that gay marriage is really important because imagine what it would be like to never be able to marry who you love.
NFTY’s legislative action in 2003 was proposed by Max Chaiken, then the NFTY-GER Religious and Cultural Vice President. Max, now a rabbinical student studying in Israel adds, “This is a historic moment in the struggle for all couples to be treated equally under federal law, giving honor and dignity to the thousands of families that have lived under DOMA’s “separate but equal” nature for so long. As we say each year at Passover, we are not free until all are free. Let’s enjoy this moment and work towards the next with spirit and confidence that we can make our world a more just, peaceful place each day.
While the Kutz and NFTY community is elated by today’s announcement, there is an underlying understanding our work is not done. Our tradition teaches, “It is not your duty to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.” The reality is that 37 states still do not recognize same sex marriage and our job as Jews and as NFTYites is to continue lobbying, continue advocating, and continue to effect change in NFTY, our community, and the world!