Sisterhood Blog

Jewish Allies on Marriage Equality

By Sarah Seltzer

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In the midst of the depressing morass known as Weinergate, there is some more heartening news about New York Jews and their love lives. Among the many members of the tribe joining the full-on advocacy efforts for gay marriage in New York are a couple called the Blumenthals, who have lent their story and family photos to this touching ad.

Via Chloe Angyal at Feministing, this set of Jewish parents made an ad about marriage equality asking legislators to grant them the simple pleasure of seeing their gay son walk down the aisle — just like their straight one has.

Here’s the transcript:

Iris Blumenthal: We’ve been married for 47 years and have two sons. Our older son is straight and has been married for 15 years. Our youngest son is gay and has been in a committed relationship for 11 years. A good marriage is thinking about and caring for the other person even more than you care about yourself and we’ve seen this in Jonathan and Eric’s relationship to each other. They’re a wonderful couple, they’re a caring couple. It would give us such great joy to walk them down the aisle and watch them get married.

This is the reason that the appeal for gay marriage is going to win out, and is already polling at 58% in New York state. It’s an unassailable argument based in conventional, happiness-soaked ideas about family. The fight for gay marriage in ads like this is about letting more people into the dream of normalcy: a walk down the aisle, a family, a partnership, a chance to make their parents kvell. Or as Angyal put it, “Jewish mothers like to bug their kids about *hurrying up and getting married and giving me some grandchildren already before I die because I’m not going to be around forever you know my health isn’t what it used to be, and right now the New York state legislature is standing in the way of that.”

I loved the Blumenthal ad, and I’m confident that, in time, its message and this movement will be victorious.

But I worry that our current struggle on issues like reproductive rights, where family planning and abortion are flailing, indicates that the full spectrum of sexual equality and autonomy evades us.

It’s also important to remember that gay rights and reproductive rights need to be extended to everyone — whether its the dream of monogamy and a pair of kids or simply the right not to be discriminated against and to enjoy freedoms. When individuals make sexual and reproductive choices that are not deemed as naches-worthy as, say, marriage, whether it’s having an abortion or being child-free or rejecting gender roles, or just staying single or unmarried or choosing any other alternative lifestyle that causes no harm, they will still need the advocacy of allies just as much, if not more. Will we still be there for them?


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