Winnipeg synagogue hosts gay wedding ceremony

 WINNIPEG (JTA) — A Winnipeg synagogue hosted a same-sex wedding ceremony.

On Jan. 21, Arthur Blankstein and Kenneth Ure renewed their marriage vows at the Shaarey Zedek Synagogue; they were wed in a civil service in Vancouver in 2004. Canada legalized same-sex marriage a year later.

The service was held under a chuppah and conducted by Rabbi Larry Pinsker.

"I think it’s a wonderful moment, but it’s especially a wonderful moment because the people involved are long-time dedicated people who have been married under civil law here in Canada since 2004," Pinsker told CBC News.

The ceremony is the culmination of a three-year process intended to welcome gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered (GLBT) people into the congregation, which left the Conservative movement about a decade ago and is now unaffiliated.

The first stage, said Ian Staniloff, the synagogue’s executive director, was to allow same-sex couples to buy joint burial plots in 2009. The second was to welcome them as members.

Prior to the wedding, Arthur Blankstein, 67, had told the Winnipeg Jewish Post and News that "Shaarey Zedek has been talking the talk. Now it is time for the congregation to walk the walk."

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