A Suggestion for Orthodox Jewish Political Activists Regarding Same Sex Marriage

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The OU, RCA, and Agudath Israel of America have recently issued public statements expressing their dismay as the movement to grant same sex couples marriage rights gains momentum. Similarly, the OU and Agudath Israel of America issued a statement expressing their displeasure with the now famous contraceptive mandate in Obamacare.

While the two statements are similar, they are also very different. The Torah prohibits a specific kind of male on male lovemaking. The Torah does not recognize, or even provide a mechanism for two men or two women to wed in a religious ceremony. Legalizing same sex marriage is seen as an affront to these values. However, the Torah does not prohibit contraception. Yet, the orthodox Jewish organizations rallied together to support the Catholic Church which does prohibit contraceptive use for its membership.

The most reasonable explanation for these statements is that the orthodox Jewish organizations fear that if legislation is passed that is not consistent with the values of orthodox Judaism, those who practice orthodox Judaism could be subject to discrimination lawsuits. This explains their support of the Catholic Church in the battle over birth control. Although the issue does not affect orthodox Jews per se, it does have a collateral effect in that it could set dangerous precedent for governmental interference with religious practices and beliefs which could give rise to discrimination claims against orthodox Jews.

(That is, I dismiss any and all arguments that these laws are actually a specific risk for orthodox Jews or the spiritual health of the nation.)

As farfetched as this may sound, the Court of Appeals in New Mexico just ruled on a case of similar concern. A gay couple called a photographer to do their wedding. They told the photog that the wedding was between two men. The photog responded that she doesn’t do “non-traditional weddings”. They meet a few times anyway. The couple didn’t use the photog, obviously. They sued the photog under a New Mexico statute that bans any “public accommodation” from discriminating based on race, religion, sexual orientation, etc.

The reasoning of the gay couple plaintiffs was that they were being discriminated against by a business operating in public and this violated the statute. The court ruled in their favor and the court of appeals affirmed the lower court’s ruling.

This sounds really, really scary for orthodox Jews.

Let me walk you off the ledge.

First of all, this is a very strange ruling. Using this interpretation of the statute, anything can be considered a public accommodation. Certainly City Hall is a public accommodation and in New Mexico, City Halls won’t give marriage licenses to gay couples! (Now City Hall is has immunity, but you get the idea – this is kind of a crazy ruling.) It is very likely that this ruling with reversed on appeal on this issue.

Second of all, it’s hard to see how this is true discrimination. There are plenty of photographers in New Mexico who would have loved to have the business. It’s not as if the couple had no options because of this photographer’s unwillingness to photograph a ceremony not recognized by their own state. Wouldn’t the gay couple want to reward and support photographers who endorse and approve their beliefs and choices?! Of course they would. So just hire one of those photogs. Problem avoided. If they can demonstrate that there is a conspiracy amongst photographers to withhold doing business with gay couples, it would be a much stronger case of discrimination.

Third of all, the photographer could have given a million different reasons for not taking the job. She could have said she is going on vacation or that she isn’t interested in working at that location or that she might not feel good that day or thats she has a funeral. Whatever. The point is that the only way a suit like this is possible, is in the precise situation at hand. That is, the defendant expressly says “I am not doing the job because you are gay”. It shouldn’t be too hard to avoid this in the future. So even if the Court of Appeals ruling stands, it has limited utility.

What’s the lesson? The lesson is that this anti-discrimintory statute in New Mexico is vague and broad and may cause unfair results. But more importantly, states are writing these statutes. Instead of making general statements of disapproval that sound awfully like we are trying to impose our religion’s morality on America, an idea many orthodox Jews find abhorrent, it would be wiser to try and influence or impact future legislation to make sure this doesn’t happen in the future.

Gay marriage is already legal in New York and it will be legal everywhere eventually. Religious activists should engage in the legislative process to make sure that orthodox Jewish vendors and institutions are protected. Let’s spend our time and efforts on what will make the difference for our community. Let’s not waste time and energy fighting a losing battle. Same sex marriage is here to stay. There is no true sanctity of marriage in America. There might be sanctity of marriage within some religious groups, but that is not relevant to the issue at hand. Too many civil rights are attached to marriage to deny same sex couples those same opportunities without invoking religious beliefs. And as I am sure you know, one cannot use religious beliefs as the only basis for a law. So same sex marriage is going to happen everywhere. Let’s prepare ourselves for that reality by making certain that the statutes clearly allow for religious people to be able to choose with whom they do business so long as there are viable, vibrant options for the same sex couple.

But in the end, wouldn’t it be better if religious vendors were able to set aside their personal beliefs for the sake of civility and friendship? I mean, there is no prohibition that I am aware of in orthodox Judaism that would prevent a photographer from working a gay wedding. There is no problem for a tailor to hem a gown or cuff some pants for a gay wedding either. So I guess what I am saying is that while I respect religious beliefs very much, I don’t believe that one’s religious beliefs are sufficient cause to discriminate. To be clear, I am not talking about a member of the clergy performing a ceremony that does not even exist in his or her religion. I am referring to vendors who are uncomfortable working a gay ceremony. There is a difference. I don’t think anyone would expect a member of the clergy be required to perform a nonexistent ceremony. But there is no direct parallel to religious vendors.

It would make me much happier to see people find the good in others and respect their choices, than to use their beliefs as a tool for division. It would save a lot of time and grief as well.

So my suggestion to orthodox Jewish political activists is twofold. One, get involved in legislation to make sure our interests are protected and stop with the anti-gay platitudes. Two, encourage orthodox Jewish to consider setting aside their religious preferences for the sake of peace and maybe even kiddush Hashem (honestly, I am not sure about this one. But eivah certainly applies).

Hopefully, these ideas can bring us to a better future for all Americans. The religious, the gay, and the gay religious. All of us.

Links: Volokh Conspiracy 1 and 2,

  • T

    Gay marriage is already legal in New York.

    • Indeed. Not sure how that slipped my mind as I was writing this. Already fixed it. Thanks.

  • Anonymous

    Let’s spend our time and efforts on what will make the difference for our community. Let’s not waste time and energy fighting a losing battle.
    ha! like the Aguda would care to do something for the community it claims to represent.
    The AIA is good for two things, celebrating itself and denying its impending downfall.

    • It really looks bad for AI when they make public pronouncements regarding the evil of same sex acts between consenting adults, while campaigning actively to continue the coverups of same sex acts between adults and minors.

  • the use of the law purely as a cudgel is somewhat alarming. Instead of it being a protection its being used as persecution.

    • Sounds like you don’t like any civil rights litigation…

      • Anonymous

        There only needs to be one (maybe two) civil rights legislation, and that is:

        “All humans are created equal and thus must be treated that way”

        And the possible second one is to enumerate different treatments for citizens versus non-citizens if necessary.

        • DG

          You don’t really believe that. Ten-year-olds should be able to get driver’s licenses? And gun licenses? And be drafted into the army (in a country that has the draft)? And 40-year-olds should have to go to school?

          • Anonymous

            @c057154fd302f905d4249b838f2495f5:disqus Okay smart aleck 🙂 Let’s have 2, possibly, 3 rules. One of which delineates the differences between children and adults and defining the age at which a child becomes an adult.

        • Would the “must be treated that way” requirement extend to religious organizations? Will I be forced to have a woman blow shofar for me on Rosh Hashanah? (I actually a know a very frum woman who is a great shofar blower — she used to be a french horn player.)

          • Anonymous

            I’m not sure. These religious exemptions are the things that are causing much of the trouble with our system of laws and rights.

      • its not that, i just dont like litigation for the sake of litigation. I dont like claimants creating claims/scenarios that dont need to be…

  • It is very likely that this ruling with reversed on appeal on this issue.

    Unlikely. “Public accomodation” includes goods and services. If you offer a service to the public you are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, sex, or religion, and in the approximately 20 states with gay rights laws, on the basis of sexual orientation as well. The only way you can get out of it is if the activity in question you are being required to photograph is illegal.

    If some Christian bigot refused to photograph a Jewish wedding we’d be up in arms. It is the very same law that prohibits both these acts of discrimination.

    • Check out the Volokh posts linked at the end of the post.

      • The courts generally have NOT allowed religious freedom exemptions from civil rights laws, as the Smith decision pointed out in the post points out, and earlier when Bob Jones University lost its tax exempt status because of racial discrimination. In another case, my own institution lost a case when we tried to prohibit same sex couples in a dorm. (It had a terrible case; we had accepted public funds to build the dorm!) This would appear to basically settled law.

        • Another example is that Catholic institutions lost a lawsuit after New York State started requiring them to cover contraceptives in their employee health insurance policies. None of the institutions dropped employee health insurance after the decision.

        • Torah Jew

          and that why we are mechuyuv to fight this rishus movement with all are koach.

          when the 1980’s NYC gay “rights” bill was being pushed R Moshe said we’re mechuyuv to fight this with all our koach.

          R Herschal schater said that same-gender “marriage” will “destroy this country”

          R Twersky said in his famous drasha in Gluck that the reason for the YU forum is because people were pushing this rishus in both Albany and Trenton.

          now that is CV passed in NY who knows how many people were effected.

          there are only 2 types of Jews who aren’t against TOAVIAH marriage, apikorsiem and/or Shotiem.

          so which one are you.

          • Furthermore, you fail to get the distinction between same sex marriage contracts, which is indeed forbidden for non-Jews according to uncontested statements in the gemara, and employment discrimination against gays and Lesbians. There is absolutely no chiyuv to discriminate in employment. Indeed here is the antidiscrimination policy of my employer, Yeshiva University:

            “The University’s policy is designed to insure that recruitment, hiring, training, promotion, and all other personnel actions take place, and all programs involving students, both academic and non-academic, are administered without regard to race, religion, creed, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, veteran or disabled veteran status, genetic predisposition/carrier status, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or citizenship status as those terms are used in the law. In addition, this policy is designed to maintain a work and academic environment free of harassment and intimidation.”

            http://www.yu.edu/hr/diversity/

            I would have voted for the NYC gay rights law. It was because of that NYC gay rights bill that the notorioius Plato’s Retreat sex club was closed. Should it have been permitted to continue?

            Furthermore, it is a fact that we do not try to force the Noachide laws on non-Jews. Case in point: In 1788 the US Constitution was ratified. It contained a provision prohibiting any religious test for any public office in the federal government. It thus allowed idol worshipers to serve in any position, even President of the United States. Indeed many if not the majority of Orthodox Jews in America wil be voting for a candidate who practices a polytheistic religion for President of the United States this fall. Where is your outrage over this?
            This picking and choosing doesn’t make us look very consistent.

            • Torah Jew

              rav solvatich assured voting for that law (the person who he told this to told me)

            • Torah Jew

              R Moseh Fienstein pasekend that all jews were mechyuv to fight that bill.

              but a rasha like you, knows more the the biggest posek America ever had.

          • cipher

            R Herschal schater said that same-gender “marriage” will “destroy this country”

            Of course, rebbaim raping little boys will have no effect. Wait, what am I saying? Every ehrliche yid knows that never happens!

            Excuse me, I have to go say tehillim now for my evil thoughts about Toyreh sages.

  • >Two, encourage orthodox Jewish to consider setting aside their religious preferences for the sake of peace

    I find this odd. Why is not wanting to be a contributing factor to something you are against, unpeaceful? Im not saying a vendor should grab them by the collar and kick them out of the store. But politely saying “no thank you, My business cannot be part of your event” can be just as peaceful. My wife’s uncle had a photo develoment business where he clearly said that he will not develop any nude/half nude pictures. Is that divisive? In some way, yes. He is clearly making a judgement call on others that find it perhaps artistic. But he isn’t trading fists or yelling. It’s done in a peaceful way even if the answer is “no.” For the sake of peace, perhaps the client should also make some accommodations.

    • First of all, I said that it’s stupid for gay couples to solicit bigots. But more importantly, providing a device at a wedding is hardly a “contributing factor”.

      • Its not a contributing factor in a causal sense; the marriage will go ahead with or without your photography services. However, by agreeing to photograph such a wedding, you aid the union, or at least give implicit approval of what is ocuring. In a moral sense, your affirmative act makes a statement to the couple, the guests, and to yourself, your friends, and your family.

        Certainly, reasonable people can differ on this; I certainly appreciate your view that it makes no real difference whether you do or do not photograph the wedding. But precisely because reasonable people can differ, and those inclined to refuse to offer aid to the marriage of a homosexual couple can make a logical moral case justifying their decision, I think it goes a bit to far to condemn those who wouldn’t photograph the event.

        Additionally, I think you are making a distinction between the obligations of the clergy and of the layman that is simply indefensible in Jewish terms. The Jewish photographer has the same halachic duties as the “gadol she-b’gedolim.” If it is okay for the photographer to support the union in his way (by taking pictures), then it should be okay for the rabbi to “officiate” at a ceremony for a gay couple, after all, such a ceremony has no actual halachic implications and the rabbi is just providing the ceremonial pomp and circumstance for a legal union that would occur anyway. (We have heard this line of reasoning recently, if you recall the D.C. area rabbi who did as much).

        • Re contributing factor: You might want to call it “participating in an event I find wrong”, but you are not “contributing”. That is all I was saying.

          Re the clergy: There is no such thing as a gay marriage in Jewish law. What is the rabbi supposed to do? There is no way to do it. But there is definitely a way of photographing or serving food at a gay wedding in Jewish law.

          • DG

            So how about if the rabbi were asked to officiate at a wedding of a kohen and a divorcee?

            • Different. Kidushin are tofes.

              • DG

                That’s precisely my point. Therefore there is a way to do it, but it’s against the rabbi’s religion. So what if a court said the rabbi was discriminating against this couple? Morally it’s the same: a court banning discrimination that is based on religious principles. Would you say there’s nothing wrong with forcing a rabbi to do such a wedding?

                • That’s not how civil rights laws work. They protect specific classes of people who are victims of repeated discrimination. EG gay people. Not bad Kohanim.

        • tesyaa

          Do Orthodox Jewish photographers ask to see evidence of a proper get when photographing second marriages? They might be a contributing factor to eshes ish if they don’t!

          • Just what we need…

          • Certainly not, but neither they nor anyone else would likely know if the get was valid or not. The more accurate analogy would be to a Torah-observant photographer’s being asked to photograph an inter-marriage wedding with a dual Christian-Jewish ceremony; or, to use your example, the photographer’s being asked to photograph the wedding of his neighbor, a woman who has decided to leave her husband and Orthodox practice and marry some other guy when the photographer and everyone in town knows she never received a get. Arguably (and I emphasize arguably) the photographer would be fully justified in declining the job because his religious values frown upon the conduct being engaged in at the wedding, and he, as a religious person who feels strongly that these religious values should not be denigrated, does not wish to actively participate in the event in any way.

            • DG

              I guess in the case of the woman who never received a get, the rabbi could say, “I now pronounce you man and wife.” Not his wife, of course, but a wife nevertheless.

          • Anonymous

            And do they ask for proof of besulos for first marriages?

            • tesyaa

              No, they specifically don’t! But that is only an issue as it affects the ketubah; it has nothing to do with the validity of the marriage.

      • AHHHHH, the ol’ “bigoted” line.

        1) Before you are able to call people like me bigots with such a clear conscience, let’s get things straight. For all intense purposes, you are no less of a bigot. A rabbi not officiating for a gay couple is no differenent than a florist not wanting to provide their service because both in the end, you and the vendor have a religion, and the spirit of the religion to contend with.

        “Rabbi Huna said in the name of Rabbi Joseph, ‘The generation of the Flood was not wiped out until they wrote marriage documents for the union of a man to a male or to an animal.'”

        Legal matters aside, anyone to your progressive left has no problem looking at this objectively and calling your religion, and you, a bigot for not officiating for a gay couple. It’s bigoted.
        2) For all intense purposes, today a wedding requires florists, a musician, invitations and a caterer. So YES, it is a contributing factor. I am a graphic designer. I make invitations. My time, energy, and commitment goes into providing a product to help make occasions successful. So yes, I am a contributing factor. My working on an invitation is an active affirmation to the union. It isn’t passive. Would it be ok as a graphic designer to accept a job from the KKK to promote their event? Of course not. And while there is a difference between gay marriage and a KKK rally, me not wanting to contribute to either stems from my value system that I don’t believe in either one EVEN THOUGH they are not morally equal.

        • 1) Um no. I WANT to perform the ceremony but I have no ceremony to perform. And lucky for us, God promised no more floods so R’ Huna’s polemic doesn’t make me too nervous.

          2) I still don’t think you are using “contributing” correctly. I didn’t say that you have to do it due to the fact that you are not a contributing factor. I just said you are not a contributing factor.

          • Thank God, but Huna was certainly a bigot for saying such a thing. And you can certainly officiate at one. It just doesn’t have to be an orthodox wedding. It doesn’t even have to be two Jews.

          • Anonymous

            @efink:disqus Um no. I WANT to perform the ceremony but I have no ceremony to perform.

            What if they simply ask you to perform the state-sanctioned part of the ceremony using the powers vested in you as a recognized clergyman?

            • That’s a tough question.

              • Anonymous

                Yep. That’s why I asked it 🙂

              • Why is it tough? Did I misunderstand you when you said you WANT to perform it. Ok, so you can’t perform an orthodox wedding. Here is your opportunity to officiate it. The end goal ends up being the same.

                • It’s tough because of social concerns. If no one in the words would ever know about it, I would do it.

                  • Does it concern you that you have openly admitting you want to perform it?

          • DG

            The point of the R. Huna story is not that it will lead to another flood but that the Torah considers official governmental recognition of gay “marriage” an extremely serious offense that may have grave consequences. I personally find it scary.

            • tesyaa

              well, be prepared to get more scared! It’s coming whether you like it or not. (I like it, but I suspect you do not).

              • tesyaa

                I didn’t mean that to sound so “in your face”. I just don’t understand the fixation of gay marriage, to the exclusion of all the actual horrors that are perpetrated in the world on a daily basis.

                • DG

                  What makes you think I have no objection to murder, rape, child abuse, elder abuse, fraud, and all sorts of downright nastiness? Believe me, I’m not “fixated” on gay marriage. I simply have an opinion on the subject.

                  • tesyaa

                    Fair enough. Do you think homosexual intercourse, in which there is no victim, would incur graver divine consequences than murder, rape and theft? Just wondering.

            • Really? It’s one man’s polemic statement. If it was so universally held why is the first source for this idea a rabbi from the latter part of the Amoraic period. Don’t worry so much.

            • Anonymous

              @DG I personally find it scary.

              What exactly do you envision happening? It’s got to be pretty bad considering that you used the words “grave consequences”! And, if so, are you doing your utmost to remove yourself from such a society so that you don’t end up suffering those “grave consequences”? In other words, are you hightailing it out of Sodom before it is destroyed? 🙂

              • DG

                I consider a worldwide flood that destroys almost all human and animal life to be a grave consequence. I was simply saying that this seems to me to be the point of R. Huna’s statement. I don’t predict the future.

                And actually, I don’t live in the US.

                • Anonymous

                  @c057154fd302f905d4249b838f2495f5:disqus Well, luckily there’s never been a worldwide flood and there likely won’t be one (though the global warming scaremongers sometimes claim there might be someday). And who said anything about the US? 🙂

  • Hillel

    R’ Fink,
    I think your post may be mixing apples and oranges. The case in New Mexico (regardless of it’s constitutionality or general applicability) has nothing to do with gay marriage. It can’t: New Mexico has never legalized gay marriage. The point is, this ruling would be true for any ceremony or activity involving gay people (or any other so-protected group). If they were having some sort of informal commitment ceremony not recognized by the state, the ruling would not be any different. Therefore, the question isn’t whether this ruling threatens the livelihood of frum photographers and caterers; the question is whether, to incur liability for refusing to serve gay couples, it makes any difference at all if gay marriage is legal or not.

    This case makes pretty clear it doesn’t.

    KT,
    Hillel

  • Larry Lennhoff

    This isn’t the first such case where a business was told it cannot discriminate against someone, and it probably won’t be overturned. See this case in New Jersey

  • ahg

    You’re making contradictory arguments.

    You state: “Let’s prepare ourselves for that reality by making certain that the
    statutes clearly allow for religious people to be able to choose with
    whom they do business so long as there are viable, vibrant options for
    the same sex couple.”

    I think we can all agree as a baseline that if someone opened a convenience store and put up a sign that said “No Jews” we wouldn’t accept the argument that there are hundreds of viable and vibrant options in the town so we should leave the guy alone if he’s uncomfortable doing business with Jews.

    Presumably the distinction is that there is no bonafide religious objection to doing business with Jews but gay marriage is different, as many find it religiously objectionable.

    However, just a couple sentences earlier you persuade the reader to drop objections to same-sex marriages with: “And as I am sure you know, one cannot use religious beliefs as the only basis for a law.”

    Wouldn’t any exemption to sexual-orientation discrimination laws fall afoul of exactly that separation of church and state provision?

    • There are two separate issues.

      One is whether orthodox Jews should try to influence legislatures to make concessions on their behalf. I think they may. This is better than standing on the wrong side of this issue and opposing gay marriage because it offends us. And yes, the distinction is as you stated, it does make a difference what the activity that the discriminated party is engaging in.

      Two is whether orthodox Jews should care that gay marriage is going to be “normal”. To this I say, think about why you care – that is because of your religious beliefs. To this I say, your religious beliefs cannot be the basis for denying civil rights to a large group.

      There is no contradiction because religious beliefs can be the basis for exceptions to the law. Which is what I was raising in ‘One’.

      • I’m sorry, I just don’t get it. WHAT CIVIL RIGHT?!?!?!

        • Not to discriminated against as provided by the New Mexico statute and the Matthew Sheppard Act and many other civil rights statutes.

          • Yes, yes. I just don’t understand how this squares with freedom of association. How can a State grant anyone an civil right to compel other’s to work for or associate with them?

            • They can’t. But they can prevent from disassociating based on discrimination.

      • ahg

        “There is no contradiction because religious beliefs can be the basis for exceptions to the law.”

        The only exceptions I know of apply to religious institutions themselves and not the individual adherents. For example, clearly an Orthodox Jewish shul can refuse to consider the a female applicant as rabbi. A grey area might be a synagogue advertising a receptionist position as “male applicants only” on the basis that there may be times when the rabbi was alone with the receptionist. They might have a tougher time defending that exception as the religion doesn’t limit the position to a male only, it just might inconveniences the rabbi… but a synagogue could probably get away with it.

        However, I know of no exception that applies to an individual who affiliates with a particular faith. For example, if you decided to open up a solo legal practice and ran the same ad for a male receptionist for the same reason, I don’t think you would stand a chance if you were challenged. Similarly, if you advertised the position to gentiles only because it might have certain advantages with regard to Shabbat, you could run into problems. Of course you could circumvent the problem by limiting your advertising of the position to selective word of mouth but that’s not the issue. The issue is can you do it openly and legally.

        Please provide an example of where an individual has an exemption on discrimination?

        One more thing… “Third of all, the photographer could have given a million different reasons for not taking the job.”. Aren’t you basically suggesting that people circumvent the law by lying. Is that really what we want to encourage?

  • y123

    Had the photographers been approached to do someone’s headshot and refused because the person is gay, THAT would be discrimination. If a convenience store refused to sell a candy bar to someone because that person is gay, THAT would be discrimination. But declining to take part in an activity they personally disagree with? I’m not seeing how that’s “discrimination”. By the court’s logic, the state of Nevada (where prostitution is legal) can therefore compel heterosexual male prostitutes to service men, as well.

    • ahg

      What if the same photographer had no problem taking pictures of wedding where non-kosher food was being served? For argument’s sake, let’s say it was a Jewish wedding with pork and shrimp. He personally disagrees with both couple’s choices, but because one evokes a more visceral reaction we allow it?

  • ksil

    if a photog had a simlar policy about mixed race couples, would holy hyrax agree? should the government/courts step in a and say, you cant discriminate!

    • Is there a religion that holds about blacks what religions hold regarding gays?

      • Anonymous

        There’s no “religion” that’s holds it about gays either! (there are sects of various religions that do hold it)

      • ksil

        does that make a difference when it comes to discrimatory law?

      • Anonymous

        Mormons used to teach that dark skin was the “mark” that the Lord placed on Cain, as a curse. Blacks weren’t allowed to hold the priesthood in the LDS church until the 70’s. They could technically join the church, but couldn’t do most of the rituals and ordinances. Was that discrimination? Sure. It’s also their right under the free exercise clause of the 1st amendment.

      • There are still some racist Christian groups out there. 99.99% of the Christian world refuses to have anything to do with them.

  • Is it possible for me to ask Holy Hyrax a question in private before I go further in reading or commenting please?

  • Anonymous

    I wonder if it works both ways. In other words, as either customer or as service provider, do your own religious beliefs trump anything in certain cases.

    Here’s an example to illustrate the point: A Charedi couple decides to get married and they engage a photographer to take pictures of the event. The photographer sends a female employee to take the pictures. The families refuse the female photographer entry to the event (the male portion of it at least). What claims, if any, does either side have?

    And to modify the example slightly. Same as above, but the couple informed the photographer in advance that they prefer a male photographer at the event. At the last moment, however, the male employee calls in sick and the photographer only has a female employee available for the event. What claims, if any, in this slightly modified case?

    • Anonymous

      If the couple stipulated in the contract that they must have (not merely prefer) a male photog for the men’s side, and a female for the women’s side, then it becomes a condition of the job itself. If the company doesn’t fulfill that clause, they’re in breach of contract.

      This is part of the reason why frum weddings typically use frum photographers. That, and because they already know how a frum wedding is set up. Imagine if someone didn’t take pictures of the tana’im or ketubah signing, or the plate breaking, because they didn’t realize that it’s an important part of the whole ritual.

      • Anonymous

        @FormerReformJew:disqus I’m not sure such a contract (“must have”) would be legal. They’re only sending one photographer, it isn’t such a huge affair.

  • Anonymous


    Gay marriage is already legal in New York and it will be legal everywhere eventually. ”

    32 states have explicitly voted against it. Only 6 states + DC allow it.

    More likely that state-sanctioned marriage will disappear altogether, before socially conservative states (so far, the majority of states) allow gay marriage.

    I am proud of the Orthodox Jewish organizations that stood with the Catholic church against the unprecedented usurping of religious freedom. First they came for the Catholics…..

    • I fail to see how same sex marriage affects MY religious freedom. Had the state banned kiddushim, or brit milah, that would be different. But how is MY freedom affected by what OTHERS do?

      • Anonymous

        It isn’t affected, and I wasn’t saying that it is. The first part of my comment was challenging Eli’s assertion that “it will be legal everywhere eventually.” The second part of my comment was an approval of the Orthodox Jewish groups that stood with the Catholic church against Obama’s usurpation of religious freedom – by forcing Catholic organizations to violate their beliefs, in the name of “health care”.

        • Susan Barnes

          Contraception is health care. It’s more dangerous to a woman’s health for her to undergo pregnancy and childbirth than it is for her to use contraception. It is even more true for some women with certain health and/or financial issues.

          • Anonymous

            That is a decision that a woman is free to make with her doctor. If her employer is a religious institution with a sincerely held belief, the 1st amendment guarantees the free exercise of their religion. Employers are not obligated to provide health care. If a woman wants contraception, she can pay for it herself, get it cheaply from nonprofit organizations (like Planned Parenthood), or find a job with an employer who has no religious imperative to avoid providing contraception.

            It is important that the Jewish people stand in solidarity with the Catholics on this issue. San Francisco already tried to ban circumcision based on “health care”. We don’t want any precedent in US law which would allow such a ban to succeed, the next time someone tries to infringe on Jewish religious freedom.

      • Torah Jew

        how about the fact that shoimer shabbos Jews went to these “weddings” which is a issur chamur.

        • Nobody forced them to attend. And it may not even be asur to attend — there is no isur for me to enter a non-kosher restaurant where Jews are eating lobster and cheeseburgers.

          • Torah Jew

            then why did a noted YI Posek assur it.

          • guest

            then why did a noted YI Posek assur it.

    • Shlomo

      It is not just in conservative states that are against it. Amongst those 32 states that voted against it, California did twice, and only the courts struck down the proposition defining marriage as between man and woman. In New Jersey where the legislation voted to allow, Christie, who said that he would sign the bill vetoed it anyway, as his poll showed most voters were against it!

      • Christie said during his gubernatorial campaign that he opposed same sex marriage.

  • curious george

    Isn’t there an issur om m’sayaya l’dvar aveira? Does that only apply to officiating the ceremony? Surely the musicians, caterer, photographer and others in the event business are aiding in making the event happen?

    • Honestly I don’t think that applies here.

  • David

    What would you say to a pharmacist that didn’t want to hand out contraception, based on their religious beliefs, to a client? Should they be compelled to support an act that they – not you or I – believe is wrong?

    • Susan Barnes

      It’s my understanding (and maybe this is just California) that the pharmacist is, indeed, required to fill contraceptive prescriptions, regardless of his or her personal beliefs.

  • guest

    “There is no problem for a tailor to hem a gown or cuff some pants for a gay wedding either”

    could be a major issur of misayah and depending on the situation lifnai eiver.