Levin on Judaism and the Same-Sex Marriage Debate

While procrastinating about grading, I scrolled through today’s twitter feed (yes,  you too can follow my not-particularly exciting twitter feed) and found a extremely thoughtful op-ed by Hillel Y. Levin (U. Georgia Law School) in Tablet Magazine titled “Stay Out of It.”   In the piece, Levin criticizes recent statements from prominent Orthodox Jewish institutions opposing same-sex marriage.  Much of Levin’s criticism tracks some of the larger debates over whether there is a role for religious argumentation in the public sphere – debates frequently associated with John Rawls’s seminal article “The Idea of Public Reason Revisited.”

But Levin also presses on another reason why Orthodox Jews should be particularly sympathetic to same-sex marriage, which emphasizes the minority status of both the Jewish and LGBT communities.  Here’s an excerpt I found particularly noteworthy:

Unlike our Christian friends and neighbors, Jews grow up with our minority status deeply ingrained and without the instinctive expectation that our religious traditions and beliefs will naturally be reflected in the broader law and culture. As a minority within a minority, Orthodox Jews recognize that we reap the benefits of pluralism, tolerance, and accommodation. After all, if religious beliefs in this country were to orient secular law, we would find ourselves deeply disappointed and possibly threatened, just as we historically have in every other diaspora country.

RFRA News Item

Here’s a story for The Hill about RFRA and the HHS mandate by Elise Viebeck to which I contributed some thoughts.  The story is right that RFRA had broad bi-partisan support back in 1993, including from the late Senator Ted Kennedy.  Employment Division v. Smith elicited displeasure across the aisle.  Different times.