Jewish roof bodies: ‘Legalise SSM’

COMMUNAL roof bodies have urged the government to legalise same-sex marriage in the wake of the postal survey which showed 61.6 per cent of respondents supported marriage equality.

Stating, “We expect that an amendment to the definition of marriage in the Marriage Act will be enacted in the near future,” Executive Council of Australian Jewry president Anton Block added, “Members of the clergy will continue to have the right to refuse to perform or participate in any marriage ceremony at their discretion.

“We also expect that religious institutions and religious schools will continue to have the right to teach and preach their religious beliefs, including their beliefs about the institution of marriage being between a man and a woman.”

Jewish Community Council of Victoria president Jennifer Huppert said, “We hope that Parliament moves quickly to pass legislation that reflects the outcome of the plebiscite and the spirit of the message inherent within it – support for equal rights, empathy and respect.”

The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies said it stood by its motion in September, calling for “equal treatment under Australian law to same-sex couples who choose to marry”.

Rabbi Jeffrey Kamins and Rabbi Kim Ettlinger stated, “The Council of Progressive Rabbis of Australia, along with the Council of Masorti Rabbis of Australia, rejoices that the plebiscite has endorsed marriage equality to be part of Australian law.”

However, a spokesperson for the Sydney Beth Din told The AJN it stands by its September statement opposing same-sex marriage.

Earlier this year, the Rabbinical Council of Victoria also issued a statement opposing same-sex marriage. However, a number of executive members, including the RCV president, subsequently apologised for the statement and distanced themselves from it.

Meanwhile, Rabbinical Council of NSW honorary secretary Rabbi Chaim Ingram claimed the result of the survey was “not overwhelming”. 

“Within a corporate structure, a two-thirds majority would be required for major change to take effect,” he noted, adding that changes in legislation must safeguard the rights of those who don’t wish to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies, and that parents must be allowed to withdraw their children from what they consider “inappropriate sex-education lessons at school”.

EVAN ZLATKIS