WASHINGTON - The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, which interprets religious law for the Conservative movement of Judaism, ruled today to allow both commitment ceremonies for same-sex couples and the ordination of gay and lesbian rabbis.
"We rejoice that, like our ancestor Jacob, our sisters and brothers in Conservative Judaism have wrestled with this difficult question for a blessing," said Harry Knox, director of the Religion and Faith Program at the Human Rights Campaign. "This historic decision represents a major expansion of the role of lesbian and gay rabbis in the leadership of the Conservative movement and a fuller embrace of the whole lives of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Jews."
"It allows individual congregations and rabbis to lead with their hearts," said Rabbi Denise L. Eger of the predominantly LGBT Reform Congregation Kol Ami in Los Angeles and a member of the HRC Religion Council. "What this will do is allow gay and lesbian Conservative Jews to find a congregation which will welcome them. No, it's the not the whole enchilada, but it's a start."
As reported in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards endorsed three opinions Wednesday on issues affecting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
Two of the opinions upheld earlier prohibitions on same-sex activity, but the third endorsed the recognition of same-sex commitment ceremonies and the ordination of gay and lesbian rabbis. The opinion also retained the ban on sodomy between men.
Two other opinions were under consideration that would have removed all restrictions on same-sex activity. Those opinions were declared by the committee to be substantial breaks from tradition that would require an absolute majority of the committee members for adoption. The opinions were defeated.
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