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I am finished aplogizing!

I am finished apologizing that I am unable to marry gay and lesbian Jewish couples. Thus, I write this personal, open letter to my congregation, as well as to the entire Jewish community of Kansas City.

{mprestriction ids="1"}For too many years, when asked to officiate at a wedding for gay or lesbian Jewish couples, I have had to say, "I am sorry. The state will not permit me to perform a wedding ceremony. The best I can do is to perform a ‘commitment ceremony.’ It’s not legal. It’s not recognized. But it’s the best I can do. I apologize."

I will no longer apologize.

A tipping point occurred just after Yom Kippur. (How appropriate!) The Supreme Court of the United States refused to review a series of cases regarding bans over same-sex marriage. In effect, it removed the legal prohibition against same-sex marriages in a number of states. As of today, 26 out of 50 states now permit marriage licenses to be issued for same-sex marriages.

While it would have been remarkable for the Supreme Court to strike down the bans unconditionally, we say nonetheless about their tactic: DAYEINU — it was enough!

And with that tilt of the legal scales, I believe that it is time to stand up and demand that all citizens should be given the right to marry legally whomever they wish. The states should be out of the business of determining the morality of who marries whom.

So ... I make a public offer:

I invite any gay or lesbian Jewish couple who wishes to legally marry to contact me (913-663-4050, ext. 111 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). I will go with you to the courthouse. I will join you in demanding that a marriage license be issued. And it would be my joy and my privilege to stand under the chuppah as soon as possible and perform a LEGAL marriage ceremony.

You have waited too long for this moment to occur. I want to help you do now what you have been denied. It is the Jewish thing to do.

Now, it is up to us to step forward: for gay and lesbian couples, who are in love and committed to each other, to apply for marriage licenses; for families and friends to rejoice with them; for businesses, governments and society to accept them, just as any heterosexual couple is accepted.

And for me to perform their wedding ceremonies.

From now on, when asked if I will perform a gay or lesbian Jewish marriage ceremony — instead of apologizing — I will ask only one question: When?

Although the Torah is very clear as to how homosexuality is handled (stoning to those who perform homosexual acts — see explanatory note below), it says nothing about "being" homosexual. And just as I have rejected other laws in the Torah that seem to be no longer valid (e.g. stoning a defiant, disobedient child), I reject the notion that homosexuality is a sin. I do believe that one’s gender identity — as well as one’s sexual attraction — has more to do with "nature," as opposed to "nurture."

I do believe that each of us is created "b’tzelem Elohim," in God’s image. Therefore, none of us is created wrong or bad. And if one is created in such a way as to be attracted to someone of one’s own gender, how can that be wrong or bad? I do not believe it can. In addition and as we read of Yom Kippur, we are told: "Kedoshim tihiyu — You shall be holy, because I — God — am holy." If we are created in God’s image and God is holy, it means that each of us is holy. We cannot be created to be an abhorrence. (see explanatory note below)

Too many institutions and states have wrongly excluded men and women from participating in activities because of their sexual orientation. For example, the Boy Scouts of America continue to practice prejudice by excluding gay men from serving as troop leaders. These types of bans are deleterious to the well-being of our society. For it suggests that some human beings are "tainted" and therefore less equal than others. To say anything other than "shame on them" makes us co-conspirators in prejudicial behavior.

Explanatory Note: The basis of the Torah prohibition against homosexual acts derives from two biblical verses in Leviticus: "Do not lie with a male as one lies with a woman; it is an abhorrence" (Leviticus 18:22) and "If a man lies with a male as one lies with a woman, the two of them have done an abhorrent thing; they shall be put to death. Their bloodguilt is upon them" (Leviticus 20:13). The Torah considers a homosexual act between two men to be an abhorrent thing (to-e-vah), punishable by death.{/mprestriction}