Thursday, December 07, 2006

Teshuvah of Rabbis Nevins, Dorff, and Reisner

I'm still working my way through the 55 page opinion, but if you want to take a look, it's available online. There's is the liberal teshuvah of the three passed, which allows for same-sex commitment ceremonies, rabbinic ordinations, and lifts the prohibition on all homosexual sex but male-male anal sex (oral sex and lesbian sex is still okay).

Rabbi Nevins also released a journal of remarks after the vote which sheds significant light on the other (as yet unreleased) opinions. I was particularly interested in his description of Rabbi Levy's opinion that has been described as recommending reparative therapy for homosexuals:
It has been reported that Rabbi Leonard Levy called for "reparative therapy" for gay and lesbian Jews to function as heterosexuals. This is, as Len likes to say, a "sweeping generalization." In fact, his point was that while most people who experience same-sex attraction may never be able to change that, even if highly motivated, a small percentage nevertheless may, and they should be offered that opportunity. I don't think anyone disagrees that people should be able to understand their sexual orientation with the assitance of open minded counselors. Where we disagree with Len is in his claim that you can maintain an exclusive public policy that bans all homosexual intimacy and the recognition of homosexual families while also creating a welcoming and respectful environment for people who identify as gay or lesbian. I voted against Len's paper, but I don't think it should be distorted.

I think this may be too kind to the reparative therapy position, but I am curious to read Rabbi Levy's opinion in full to get the complete picture. Unlike the other two passed opinions, which both garnered a majority of 13 out of 25 (one Rabbi voted yes for both positions), Rabbi Levy's teshuvah only received 6 votes--the bare minimum necessary to be considered legitimate.

Rabbi Nevins also talks about the two opinions which were labeled "legislation" (thus requiring 20 votes instead of 6 to pass) and thus were not passed. In this category I am particularly interested in the opinion of Rabbi Tucker:
Rabbi Gordon Tucker, submitted a general essay about theories of Jewish law, citing many modern legal theorists, especially the late Robert Cover, to argue that the law must not be immoral, and that the narrative ethical values of Judaism should direct the law in this case, rather than the reverse.

Robert Cover was a brilliant legal and Jewish theorist, and I expect Rabbi Tucker's opinion to be quite intriguing and hopefully lay the groundwork for developments in Jewish law to come.

Obviously, if anyone knows where to find the other opinions, I'd love to read them over.

1 comment:

Holly in Cincinnati said...

I am told that reparative therapy was mentioned in only one line in an extensive document and those who voted for Levy's teshuvah felt that that one line did not invalidate the rest of his opinion.