Orthodox Brooklyn powerbroker and New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind utilized not one but two visual aids earlier this week in explaining his opposition to gay marriage.
First, he held up a poster of Lady Gaga: “When Lady Gaga got involved and told us we should support gay marriage, I said, “Lady Gaga, you know she is my example of how I should lead my life and how I should behave.’"
But then he explained what he says is the only reason to oppose gay marriage, holding aloft a Bible. “I wish it wasn’t in the book, because if it wasn’t, I’d be standing right next to you over there pushing this, supporting it, because there would be no reason not to.” (Hikind’s speech starts at 4:45 in the following video.)
Agudath Israel of America, the Haredi advocacy group, has also been outspoken on the issue, as a Daily News blog put it, going “into overdrive” to stop New York’s same-sex marriage legislation. Like Hikind, Agudath Israel noted that its “opposition to same-sex marriage is an expression of our religious tradition.” But its letter to legislators also stressed that “there are compelling reasons that have nothing to do with religion to oppose legislation that seeks to fundamentally alter the time-honored definition of marriage.”
Hikind’s opposition notwithstanding, New York’s State Assembly approved same-sex marriage legislation, as it had previously. But it remains to be seen whether the Republican-controlled State Senate will schedule a vote before the legislative session ends.
One sticking point cited by the Republican Senate leadership is the issue of what protections any such legislation will have pertaining to religious freedom for faith groups that do not recognize same-sex marriage, an issue some gay activists see as a "red herring." (Another reason that Republicans may be hesitant to schedule a vote is the political difficulty it would pose for many members of their caucus, caught between the majority of New Yorkers who now say they support gay marriage and conservatives who vehemently oppose it.)
While Orthodox groups have opposed legalization of same-sex marriage, other Jewish leaders are on the other side of the debate. A letter supporting same-sex marriage from 700 religious leaders released by Empire State Pride Agenda is signed by the rabbis of many of New York’s most prominent Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist synagogues.