Coming Out of the Closet… As Interdating

Holy CannoliIn yesterday’s Huffington Post, one of the original plantiffs in the California Supreme Court case that legalized same-sex marriage, Robin Tyler, wrote about the one thing more shocking than her pending marriage to a woman: her pending marriage to a non-Jew.

Tyler (original last name: Chernick) and her partner Diane Olson plan on being married by Rabbi Denise Eger of Kol Ami, an LGBT-friendly Reform synagogue in West Hollywood, Calif. However, the wedding itself will be held on the steps of the Beverly Hills Courthouse, where Tyler fully expects a mix of drag queens and protesters.

The fascinating thing about Tyler’s column is that she is defiant and proud of her homosexuality but somewhat embarassed about not being “Jewish enough.” (Not a quote from the article–rather a prevalent syndrome afflicting the majority of American Jews.)

When a reporter from a Jewish newspaper asks her “What do you think of intermarriage?”, Tyler replies, “If women want to marry men, it’s perfectly okay with me!” Tyler talks to the reporter at length about her appreciation for Rabbi Eger in hopes of avoiding the questions “Do you keep kosher?” and “How often do you go to synagogue?” Even though Olson has a mezuzah on her front door, she suspects that it’s not good enough since no one can see it and most people enter through a doorway that lacks a mezuzah.

It is one of the great ironies of intermarriage. In mainstream American society, intermarriage is widely accepted while gay marriage is opposed by most. In the Jewish community, intermarriage is widely discouraged–if not condemned–while gay marriage is accepted–if not embraced–by most.

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3 thoughts on “Coming Out of the Closet… As Interdating

  1. intermarriage may be more common in mainstream American society, but there are still a large number of people (aside from the Jewish community) who disapprove of it.

    gay marriage, on the other hand, has long been under attack by conservative Christians. this is nothing new to anyone. in the Jewish community, there has been an increasing number of gay and lesbian Jews and it’s not just limited to less observant Jews. even within the strict confines of Orthodox Judaism, there are those who prefer the same sex but must keep this extremely under wraps for fear of being expelled from their families and communities (there was actually a story on the website Jewcy.com about the Yeshiva of Flatbush in Brooklyn, NY prohibiting gay alumni to attend their reunion with a same-sex partner. even if the partner was Jewish, they still couldn’t come). as far as gay marriage is concerned, it seems to still be frowned upon by Jews but is less of a concern as long as both partners are Jewish (or if conversion is involved). Reform and Conservative Judaism have become increasingly more welcoming towards gays and lesbians, perhaps even more so than they are of heterosexual intermarried couples. so yes, it is rather ironic. but both of these groups need assistance in order to feel as though they can be a part of the Jewish community.

  2. The roots of Jewish objections to both intermarriage and same-sex marriage are in Halacha. The Orthodox are against both same-sex marrriage and intermarriage, the Reform and Conservatives not so much. This is why the Orthodox are growing, the Reform and Conservatives not so much.

  3. the Orthodox may be growing, but so are the number of GLBT and intermarried Jews. both of the latter groups do factor into the former, albeit very rarely and in a clandestine manner. the exception to the clandestine rule would be Harvard law professor Noah Feldman, and i don’t need to go into that as everyone already knows the story by now. there is a roughly 3% intermarriage rate among Orthodox Jews and there was a documentary highlighting homosexuality within the Orthodox community titled ‘Trembling Before G-d” that was released in 2001. intermarriage and homosexuality may be violations of Halacha, but people have engaged in these acts since Biblical times. more often than not (at least in our modern society), it’s unintentional. people don’t declare early on in their childhood that they’re going to intermarry or marry the same sex. these things happen, and when they do the Jewish community needs to respond to them in a manner that signifies “we may not approve of what you’re doing, but we don’t want to lose you.”

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