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Saturday, 5 April 2014

My Case Against Same-Sex Marriage

Rabbi.Laura.Janner.KlausnerBritish Reform Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner insists that everyone in the Movement for Reform Judaism is wildly enthusiastic about the start of same-sex marriage in England and Wales.

"Amongst our rabbis and our membership people are united on this issue. People are thrilled," she has said.

Oh no, they’re not! Look behind you, Rabbi Laura!

I’m dead against it, as is my husband and the vast majority  of congregants at Sha’arei Shalom North Manchester Reform Synagogue, which is a stalwart constituent of the MRJ and where we retain honorary membership, despite having lived in Israel for four years.

Rabbi Janner-Klausner, who bears the title of ‘Movement Rabbi’ and is therefore an important official spokesperson for Reform Judaism in Britain, sees the start of same-sex religious marriage as a reason to celebrate equality.

I view it as a cause for short-term junketing by wedding planners, bridal outfitters, florists and caterers;  for weird and wacky characters who  love the idea of getting hitched on the stroke of midnight – and for a Prime Minister who has been determined to  act as stage manager of this acutely embarrassing Westminster and Whitehall farce although it was not in the Tory Party’s pre-election manifesto. What, by all that’s holy, has been going on?

I’ve said – and written countless times that I strongly support civil unions and that gay people are entitled to every practical equality under the law. However, a service of any religious denomination steps beyond the bounds of reason and common sense.

This is because the act of homosexuality was legalised in England and Wales only 47 years ago and to allow any sort of religious marriage for the LGBT community overturns thousands of years of universal tradition designed for the union of one man to one woman, no matter their denomination. If it had been considered normative, same-sex religious marriage would have evolved organically like its heterosexual counterpart.

It was estimated in 2005 that only six per cent of  people in Britain were gay or lesbian. But although it makes no material change, I am genuinely worried that the new law  for religious union will further a potentially  grave imbalance in society, where children born via some artificial means or other will grow up believing that having  two mothers or two fathers is the norm. I also believe that many will start to resent their situation and then question their identity.

Every new generation considers itself better and smarter than its elders and every so often there is a societal shift – just like the revolution we’re now experiencing – and often a period of excess is followed by one of extreme restraint.

What will happen in fifty years time  – about two generations hence? Will dozens – even scores – of kids  manufactured from the seeds of same sex unions demand to know their true origins? Will sperm bank donors  want to meet their offspring; will surrogate mothers yearn to see what has become of the eggs they donate and the babies they carry? Will the legal  parents of children born by artifice demand maintenance payments from the original sperm and egg donors? Finally and most frighteningly, will any of this lead to genetic mutation?

I won’t be around long enough to see the results. This will be the privilege of the generation of my five-month-old step-grandson, the product of a loving, heterosexual union. I earnestly hope  he and his friends like the answer. But I’m not convinced they will.

© Natalie Wood (5 April 2014)

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