94 responses

  1. Paul Benedict
    June 29, 2008

    I think it is important to note that Californians have been summarily denied the ‘right to marry’ in the name of including everyone in ‘marriage’. Since, gay couples can never be married, that is, become “husband” and “wife,” the court unilaterally stripped all California of the ‘right to marry.’ Californa now refuses to recognize marriage, that is when a man and a woman become “husband” and “wife.”

    See for yourself: http://www.cdph.ca.gov/HealthInfo/news/Pages/Update05-08.aspx

  2. Jason D
    June 29, 2008

    One thing keeps getting lost in the marriage issue in CA.

    The court did not force this upon the people, against their will.

    See, the people voted for their legislature to represent them, and a governor to represent them.

    Yes, they did approve Prop 22…almost a decade ago, and in the time since that:

    TWICE the legislature approved marriage equality. Both times it was vetoed by the governor….why? His rational has been, and continues to be, that he wanted the court to weigh in on the issue. The court did, and the governor has no problem with that ruling.

    Thus, it was not the court, by itself that “”””forced”””” marriage on the people. Their elected representatives, and the court “forced” this upon them. Their will of almost a decade ago was undermined, but their most recent will via the election of the legislature and the governor, was not undermined. They voted for these people, and these people approved gay marriage. All. Three. Branches. The governing bodies of CA agreed.

    So at this point, the people want to undermine the courts, the constitution, the governor, and their own legislature.

  3. Evan
    June 29, 2008

    Jason, conservatives don’t really care about the way our government is supposed to work. In California, the “will of the people” is being “undermined.” In Arizona, the people spoke two years ago and told the anti-gay bigots to take their toys and go home. So, of course, they assume the people must be regretting their choice of just two years ago, and thus they force the voters to send them packing yet again.

    They have absolutely no respect for anything this country stands for.

  4. David Benkof
    June 29, 2008

    Popsiclestand-

    I don’t believe I miscontrued your position. You have, however, misconstrued mine. Of course you can operate based on your own religious beliefs. I never advocated that the government shut down MCC “weddings” between members of the same sex. But Judaism doesn’t just oppose me having a same-sex marriage. It opposes the government I am a citizen of recognizing any same-sex marriage. So when I use my one vote and my freedom of speech and the press, I will be advocating that all same-sex marriages be non-recognized. I’m not just talking about my own private religious decisions that are between me and my synagogue. I want my values, that marriage is between a man and a woman, to be reflected in the government of the place I live in. And since I have as many votes and as much freedom of speech and the press as you have, it’s completely fair.

    I don’t know what “glaringly obvious falsehoods you’re referring to. Timothy made two good points, one of which I apologized for (it’s too late to fix) and one of which I immediately corrected. The rest of his “exposes” are smoke and mirrors, or outright lies. I have already explained each of his allegations here and there on the Web, but if you want to tell me what you mean by “glaringly obvious falsehoods,” I will be happy to reply.

    Jason D-

    Yes, you think the executive, legislative, and judicial branch have made legitimate decisions, but the vote of the people will be “undermining the constitution.” Of course, because the first three are on your side and the last may not be. However, if the vote of the people was on your side and the three branches of government were not, you’d be complaining about that.

    Whereas I have been very clear at GaysDefendMarriage.com that I support the entire constitutional system. That includes the possibility that the initiative will be thrown out and we will have to either pass a constitutional “revision” or the Federal Marriage Amendment. I think since everybody knew about the rules in advance, we’re all stuck with them. The system isn’t perfect, but it’s the best system I’ve ever seen.

    Evan-

    In Arizona the intiative was poorly written. This one is better. What’s wrong with voting again on a new, less confusing initiative? If the people of Arizona love gay marriage, you guys will win.

  5. Popsiclestand
    June 29, 2008

    “…But Judaism doesn’t just oppose me having a same-sex marriage. It opposes the government I am a citizen of recognizing any same-sex marriage.”

    And thus you have backed up the point I made. I think I summed up your point quite accurately when I said:

    “The bottomline is, David, while I too have many deeply held religious beliefs that govern my own behavior in this country, I also acknowledge that others feel/believe differently than I do. And that the law (particularly citing the constitutional freedom of expression and religion) should be open for others to behave as their religious (or distinctly non-religious) beliefs allow. Particularly when such beliefs do not affect my ability to continue to operate my own life in a way that is suitable for me.

    You don’t seem to understand this. And that, is my problem with you. Not your vote, not your religious beliefs.”

    So you see, I haven’t misconstrued your position in the least. I was just a little more wordy than you were with it. The one mistake I might have made was not realizing that your particular interpretation of Judaism calls for a theocratic government. Sorry about that, but I’m afraid you’re in the wrong country for that crap.

    And again, I’m not saying that you can’t vote on that very religious platform. I’m just pointing out that it is anti-Constitutional and pro-Theocratic. If you’re okay with that stance, then more power to you. Unfortunately for you, we have a government model that doesn’t care what your interpretation of Judaic law is. What it does care about is your beliefs stomping on MY personal life and the equality of the citizens of this country. Just as I’m sure you would care if the shoe was on the other foot.

    Further, governmentally recognized same-sex marriage isn’t even an issue to be voted on, something that will become more and more undeniable as more and more states pass “marriage protection” amendments to their constitutions. Like Regan pointed out, it’s interracial marriage all over again. Same process preparing for the same outcome.

    My biggest question for you, David, concerning the comments that is, is why are you so defensive? When someone points out that your position of “my religious beliefs should be reflected in the form of bans and laws despite the fact that there are others who don’t believe as I do and whose real, physical lives will be negatively affected” goes against the constitution, you automatically take that as some secret sign that they don’t want you to vote, don’t want you to write, don’t want you to speak. A little extreme, don’t you think? Even your own words (as pointed out above) back that anti-constitutional stance. If you feel that your religion is so freaking awesome and correct, then just say that it should be the governing law of the land and leave it at that. It won’t gain you any brownie poinnts with the folks who like freedom of/from religion, but it would be honest if you said that outright. Then no one would even waist time arguing with you.

    Also, I’m genuinely curious as to what part of your religious texts specifically says that the government shouldn’t let gays get married.

  6. David Benkof
    June 29, 2008

    Popsicle stand-

    I never said I wanted a theocratic government. I have never heard a rabbi say we want America to be run according to the Torah. All I want is to use my one vote and my freedom of speech and the press to support laws that are consistent with my beliefs. I want you to do the same. Whoever gets the most votes wins.

    I see nothing anti-Constitutional or pro-Theocratic about my stance. I completely respect your right to base your vote and your free speech and free press exercise based on your horoscope, your devil-worship text, your flipping of a coin, or what Jon Stewart said on TV last night. If all of those are legitimate, which they are, why can’t my basing my one vote, my free speech and free press exercise on what I believe G-d thinks?

    You claim “we have a government model that doesn’t care what your interpretation of Judaic law is.” False. It cares to the extent that I can base my one vote on that, or on anything else. I get one vote, you get one vote.

    You write “What it does care about is your beliefs stomping on MY personal life and the equality of the citizens of this country.” Yet you have already said I can use my one vote however I want. What am I doing beyond my one vote and my free speech and free press rights to impose my beliefs on you?

    You ask why I’m so defensive. Because you’re attacking me for doing nothing more than exercising my constitutional rights, I automatically assume you’re attacking my constitutional rights. Honestly, I still don’t understand what you think I’m doing wrong if as you say you don’t mind my exercising my constitutional rights.

    Finally, you write “Also, I’m genuinely curious as to what part of your religious texts specifically says that the government shouldn’t let gays get married.” Gays can get married, I know several who have. I plan to marry some day. Two gay men cannot marry each other, though. You can find four texts showing why Jews must oppose same-sex marriage in my “Open Letter to Conservative Rabbis” at my blog (url below). Assuming you don’t know Aramaic or Yiddish, there isn’t a simple source I can point you to to get the originals. But that should give you a head start.

    http://www.gaysdefendmarriage.com/2008/05/31/an-open-letter-to-conservative-rabbis/

  7. Popsiclestand
    June 30, 2008

    Didn’t attack you David. Just clarifying and pointing out what you really stand for.

    Once again (for what the third time?) I didn’t say you should/couldn’t vote how you want based on what you want. Just pointing out that such thought is, by definition anti-constitutional — which you are free to be cause it’s America. I would feel the same way and write the same thing about a gay atheist who wanted to pass laws limiting Jewish folks from entering into equal opportunity civil contracts based on the atheist’s anti-religious beliefs.

    The judgement isn’t on you or your one vote or even your column, it’s on the fundamental basis of your POINT OF VIEW. Which, whether you like it or not, tramples all over the freedom of religion of others as well as delves into discrimination with the selective issuing of marriage licenses (a civil contract) to only those adult citizens agreeing to make a commitment to a specific subset of other adult citizens. Which, by the way, was the exact argument against interracial marriage — that both black and white people were equally restricted from marrying each other and therefore it was “fair”. What a joke.

    Anyway, that’s all a critique of your position, not you or your rights so stop taking things so personally and automatically assuming that I’m trying to limit your free speech or voting rights (which is just ridiculous). You don’t like people critiquing your point of view? Then stop saying it in a public forum.

    And because I see you like playing word games, I’ll rephrase my inquiry to say “Also, I’m genuinely curious as to what part of your religious texts specifically says that the GOVERNMENT shouldn’t recognize same sex marriages.”

    Thanks a bunch for the link, however, since it’s a piece written by you, it kind of negates the objective POV I was looking for. But it did give me a look into your beliefs which, to say the least, is a bit scary for those who like freedom.

    Also you say you don’t want a theocracy, but you want the government to limit civil contracts for a group of individuals based on your religious beliefs. And, based on your open letter, you believe it rather strongly. I find it hard to believe that homosexuality is the one and only issue in which Jews are “commanded” to ask government to bow to religion. Or am I wrong there? If not, where are your other issues?

    And once again…let’s say it altogether…there’s a difference between critiquing you and critiquing your point of view. If I were “attacking” you as a person, I’d probably start with asking why you present yourself as a gay man (or was that bisexual? there’s been so much changing and relabeling I get confused) representing the gay community knowing full well that the typical person reading your pieces would come to the table thinking that you are a homosexual comfortable and accepting of his homosexuality. And before you veer off on that tangent, it’s already been covered by others fairly sufficiently I think, and I really have no comment on it that hasn’t already been said.

    PS — I also see that you missed my little pointing out that certain issues should not be put up for a vote because equality of citizens and freedom of choice is automatic in our governmental model. Slavery was one of those issues. Interracial marriage was one of those issues. Gay marriage will be another. Simply put. So, again, I’m not even addressing your right to vote — because voting on the freedoms enjoyed by minority to be equal that enjoyed by the majority isn’t Constitutional. It never has been.

  8. Jason D
    June 30, 2008

    “Yes, you think the executive, legislative, and judicial branch have made legitimate decisions, but the vote of the people will be “undermining the constitution.” Of course, because the first three are on your side and the last may not be. However, if the vote of the people was on your side and the three branches of government were not, you’d be complaining about that.”

    How bad do I have you cornered that THIS is your best defense: presumed psychic powers.

  9. MirrorMan
    June 30, 2008

    Get ready, Folks! The Best of Benkof!

    He states: “But Judaism doesn’t just oppose me having a same-sex marriage. It opposes the government I am a citizen of recognizing any same-sex marriage.”

    And then he says: “I never said I wanted a theocratic government. I have never heard a rabbi say we want America to be run according to the Torah.”

    So which is it? You wrote this, so which do you truly believe? Hurry up, David! The clock is ticking!

  10. Kevin Kaatz
    June 30, 2008

    David–I suggest you read my letter to the Editor again and this time try to understand what I was saying. I was pointing out that you didn’t do your research, and that you make your claims using stereotypes. You are supposedly getting your Ph.D., right? You should know how important it is to do your research. If you don’t, you’ll find out soon how important it really is.

  11. Kevin Kaatz
    June 30, 2008

    Oh, and David, since you are so good at leaving out information, here are the rest of my sentences:
    “What does the right of marriage have to do with fidelity in the gay community? Mr. Benkof, I would argue, does not really know the gay community. He gives no statistics on how many gays and lesbians either believe or not believe in monogamy after marriage. He just extrapolates from a few blogs and websites and makes his judgement based on that. This sounds like shoddy research to me. He wrote his article based on stereotypes.”

    You see, I did not write anything about the connection between marriage and fidelity. All I did was point out that although you wrote this letter to the San Francisco Chronicle, clearly you did not do your research on this connection yourself.

  12. MirrorMan
    June 30, 2008

    Kevin, you should see how David spins his Op-Ed piece on his website. He once again cherry-picks a few peoples comments to make it look like all these people agreed with him, when in fact the vast majority of comments were calling him on what you mention: his stereotypes, lack of research, etc., etc. It would be amusing if it wasn’t so pathetic.

  13. David Benkof
    June 30, 2008

    My thought is not anti-constitutional. The constitution gives me the right to vote and use my free speech and free press rights to advocate what I believe in for any reason at all, including my religious beliefs. It does not allow me to take over the government and impose my beliefs while denying you your vote and your First Amendment rights.

    My point of view does not limit anyone’s right to enter a civil contract with anyone else. It just wants the government to recognize as marriages only those things I believe to be marriages. You do the same thing. Surely you don’t want literally anyone who can legally enter a contract to legally marry anyone else!

    Feel free to critique my point of view. People do it at GaysDefendMarriage.com and I don’t get offended. But you seem to say that there are a certain subset of ideas (which happen to be the majority ideas in America) that are somehow illegitimate, not just wrong. That offends me.

    Text #4 (the Lubavitcher Rebbe) and many more like it indicate that Jews should try to get the government to enforce the Noahide laws, which include the prohibition on same-sex civil marriage.

    If you don’t trust my interpretation of those texts, show them to any Orthodox rabbi and ask if I have interpeted them correctly. Or ask him to re-translate them from the Aramaic and the Yiddish.

    You think my beliefs about marriage are scary; I think your beliefs about marriage are scary. Where does that get us?

    You repeatedly claim or imply that I “want the government to limit civil contracts for a group of individuals based on your religious beliefs.” That is simply false. I think any two individuals can have whatever civil contract they want – heck, two twin brothers should be able to sign a civil contract giving each other “marriage” benefits. But I don’t want to extend the status of marriage to anything other than marriages, the union of a man and a woman.

    Jews are bound to enforce all the Noahide laws by any means necessary. They include murder, sexual sins such as incest, and cruelty to animals. Jews have never been involved in opposing same-sex marriage because nobody ever tried to legalize it before.

    You imply I’m somehow deceptive for not always describing my sexuality the same way. I have been up front that none of the labels fit me well. If I could use “queer” without people hearing an epithet, I would. But neither “gay” nor “bisexual” perfectly fits my internal, personal, unique-as-a-fingerprint sexuality, so I go back and forth.

    When did I say I represent the gay community? Anyone who isn’t a complete idiot knows my point of view is a small minority in the gay community.

    And I am comfortable and accepting of my homosexuality. Just because I think gay sex and same-sex marriage are immoral doesn’t mean I don’t accept my same-sex attractions.

    Your idea that certain issues cannot be changed by a vote of the people directly (as in California) or a constitutional amendment nationally (for the federal Constitution) is truly disturbing. The fact is, if the amendment process were followed, we could repeal the Thirteenth Amendment and have slavery again. If not, who exactly gets to decide which issues are permanently decided one way and which can be changed by our process? Currently, anything can be changed by our process, which is as it should be. The system you’re proposing is not a democracy, and I would not like to live under it. Given that your constitutional philosophy puts you in a tiny minority – I don’t believe any law professor or judge has ever agreed with you, I’m not worried, but it’s still seriously f’ed up.

    MirrorMan-

    Jews want the government to be run according to the Noahide laws, and for years, they have been. Now, the gay community is trying to change one of those laws that is consistent with the Noahide laws, and we are fighting back. But do we want laws to prohibit making garments with both linen and wool, and to shut down pig farms? Absolutely not.

  14. MirrorMan
    June 30, 2008

    “It just wants the government to recognize as marriages only those things I believe to be marriages.”

    I can accept that. What I can’t accept is when you use faulty research, stereotypes, and deception to attempt to make your point.

    “Jews want the government to be run according to the Noahide laws, and for years, they have been. Now, the gay community is trying to change one of those laws that is consistent with the Noahide laws, and we are fighting back. But do we want laws to prohibit making garments with both linen and wool, and to shut down pig farms? Absolutely not.”

    Now that comment is pure bullshit. If it were true, you would be trying to prohibit making garments with both linen and wool, and to shut down pig farms. You are not consistent. You are picking the laws you want changed, not just the ones that are inconsistent. That speaks of prejudice and planning, not religious orthodoxy. You are using your religion as a mask for your own agenda, and I said before, bullshit!

  15. Ben in Oakland
    June 30, 2008

    Guys– you’re just feeding the troll. He does not answer questions. He does not do research–he stumbles across a website. He is just another sad guy who uses gay people as a way to work out his own issues. As I said previously–moral and intellectual ineptitude.

  16. Timothy Kincaid
    June 30, 2008

    On June 26th, I posted the information that Benkof is no longer carried by the Dallas Voice, his last gay paper (that we know of).

    It is now June 30th. Benkof continues to call himself “a columnist for the Dallas Voice and several other LGBT newspapers”.

    If Benkof is not willing to speak honestly and forthrightly, there’s very little point in engaging him in debate. He doesn’t play by the same rules that you do. The best response is to simply document his dishonesty and let reasonable people know that his words are not based on fact, truth, evidence or reality.

  17. werdna
    June 30, 2008

    MirrorMan-
    Check this, this and this out and you’ll see that Benkof isn’t totally making this stuff up. He is, of course, not giving the whole story when he says “Jews want the government to be run according to the Noahide laws”. It would be more accurate to say “some Orthodox Jews want the government to be run according to the Noahide laws”. It’s not so much that he’s “using [his] religion as a mask for [his] own agenda,” religion is his agenda.

  18. Emily K
    June 30, 2008

    There are a lot of Jews outside the Orthodox – and possibly some WITHIN the Orthodoxy – that oppose certain things Chabad does. Chabad takes a very conservative hard-line approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which many Jews see as an opposition to Middle East peace.

  19. Emily K
    June 30, 2008

    Also, the Philadelphia Gay News doesn’t think Benkof’s work is “ready for a professional gay publication.”

  20. MirrorMan
    June 30, 2008

    Thanks, werdna, that is basically what I was getting at. I understand the laws he is talking about, but to say he doesn’t want them to be the law of the land is ludicrous at best and an outright lie at worst! It doesn’t surprise me in the least that he is not giving the whole truth. Prevarication seems to be his favorite game.

  21. rusty
    June 30, 2008

    I posted News of Gov Arnold’s Meet the Press tidbit on Gay Marriage :

    MR. BROKAW: You have a lot of propositions on the ballot again this fall. One of them would mean a constitutional ban on gay marriages. Do you support that?

    GOV. SCHWARZENEGGER: No, not at all. As a matter of fact, I think the Supreme Court made a decision there. It was apparently unconstitutional to stop anyone from getting married. It’s like 1948, the interracial marriage, when the Supreme Court of California has, you know, decided it was unconstitutional and then later on the Supreme Court of the United States followed, I think 10 or 12 years later. So I think it is, it’s good that California lead–is leading in this way. I personally believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman. But at the same time I think that my, you know, belief, I don’t want to force on anyone else, so I think we should stay with the decision of the Supreme Court and move forward. There are so many other more important issues that we have to address in California. So I think to spend any time on this initiative I think is a waste of time.

    And BENKOF sent me this message to my email:

    DavidBenkof@aol.com to me
    show details 1:14 PM (9 minutes ago) Reply

    OK now you’ve gone too far. The comments section is for comments, not random snippets of quotes from the media about gay marriage.

    If you’d like to comment, great. But I’m deleting this and future posts that are just quotes from somewhere else with no interpretation or commentary.

    -David Benkof

  22. MirrorMan
    June 30, 2008

    That is too damn funny!!!!

  23. David Benkof
    June 30, 2008

    MirrorMan-

    What faulty research, stereotypes, and deception are you talking about? I’m against those things.

    I am not picking and choosing the laws. Hashem (G-d) is. I do not have the right to decide which laws are Noahide and which ones aren’t. Those decisions have already been made by Hashem a long time ago.

    And that’s the last time I’m going to converse with someone who uses a foul word to describe my beliefs. If I used the same word to describe your sexual practices you wouldn’t tolerate it.

    I have explained at GaysDefendMarriage that as soon as the Dallas Voice and I came to an agreement as to how to handle the final four columns I wrote for them, I removed reference to them from my Web site. The editor at that paper, like most editors, does not have the final say. Once the publisher and I came to a mutually agreeable solution to our situation, one that could have included their running more of my columns but in fact involved their paying me some money and giving me permission to run my pieces in mainstrea papers, my Web site’s mention of the Dallas Voice was removed.

    Over and over and over, Timothy Kincaid has accused me of deception for not being able to predict the future. It’s pretty pathetic, actually.

    werdna and Emily K-

    Would you have me not say “Jews don’t mix milk and meat” just because some Jews who do not practice Judaism eat cheeseburgers? Is it wrong to say “Jews don’t believe in Jesus” just because some terribly confused Jews do, in fact, believe in Jesus? I stand by my statement.

    Emily K-

    [Ed. – The commenter made unsubstantiated accusations about a third party. These are neither relevant to the discussion nor appropriate at this site. Private contract disputes can be settled elsewhere and we do not wish to absorb any liability for such claims made.]

    Yes, Rusty, the comments section at my blog are for comments, not for quotes from other places on the Web. When you run a blog, you can set your rules. My rules are one quote like that is fine, several and you’re no longer allowed to comment. It’s up to you.

  24. MirrorMan
    June 30, 2008

    Once again, David, you are choosing words out of context. Learn to read sometime. At no time did I insult your religion. What I insulted was your comment because it is exactly what werdna pointed out as well, that you are talking out of both sides of your mouth and trying to have it both ways. But, for you, rather than admit you are wrong, you once again take your ball and go home. You are funny, in a way, of pretending to take the high road due to an imagined (and if you re-read the post, I specify that your comment was bullshit) slight rather than to face up to what is pointed out to you. Then you turn around and accuse someone of doing the exact same thing you do! You are priceless! And still incorrect! Or rather than run away, can you respond reasonably to what we have just noticed? That you hide your personal issues beneath a veneer of feigned religious outrage? That this is all rather personal to you and really has nothing to do with Jewish law at all? Because if it IS about Jewish religious law, then why aren’t you trying to make laws to prohibit making garments with both linen and wool, and to shut down pig farms? Hmm?

  25. rusty
    June 30, 2008

    David has removed my submitted comments, and threatened to ban me. . .oh wait a minute, he has banned me.

  26. David Benkof
    June 30, 2008

    MirrorMan-

    I get to decide when I am offended by what I perceive as an insult to my religion, not you. And I have explained why we don’t shut down pig farms twice, and you keep asking. I’m not going to keep repeating myself. It’s my impression that’s just a line you think is clever (it’s not) so you keep repeating it for effect. Boring.

  27. MirrorMan
    June 30, 2008

    You never explained it once! You just said “we don’t”. That is not an explanation, that’s an evasion. Just like you “get to decide” what an insult is. It is just an attempt to evade justified criticism of your stance and actions. Rather than answer challenges directly, you claim insult, or unfairness, or some other noxious, imaginary excuse to avoid being responsible for your actions. I would expect that behavior from a five-year old, but you are an adult, so pardon us if we hold you to a standard the rest of us can seem to bear with no ill effects. Even your comment about PGN is more “he said, he said”. You give none of the facts and it’s always “it’s not my fault, they are all against me”. You wrote earlier: “Jews have never been involved in opposing same-sex marriage because nobody ever tried to legalize it before.”
    I am sorry, but if you were so concerned about marriage equality, your site would have been up and operating in 2003, before Massachusetts ruled for marriage equality in 2004. Your act does not bear close inspection, because under observation, your errors become plain and your excuses unravel. Your claims of religion fade under review.

    What else you got?

  28. Alex
    June 30, 2008

    David, if you have an obligation to try to enact all Noahide laws at the government level, then what are you doing to make blasphemy and idolatry illegal? How can you tolerate living in a nation that has freedom of religion and freedom of speech?

  29. werdna
    June 30, 2008

    MirrorMan-
    You seem to be missing the point that there’s a distinction between the laws that apply to Jews and to Gentiles. Jews who follow the mitzvot might not wear felt, eat pig, or use a razor to shave, but they don’t care if the goyim do. It’s only the Noahide Laws that are supposed to apply to all of mankind.

    Regardless, Benkof is making a loaded claim when he writes things like “Jews are bound to enforce all the Noahide laws by any means necessary.” It would be more accurate for him to write that this is his belief, or that this is a belief of religious Jews who subscribe to particular branches of Judaism, but Benkof is not writing as an impartial observer. He is writing as an advocate for a particular kind of Judaism–which is totally legitimate, but which should also be made explicit. When Benkof says “Jews are” or “Jews do,” it’s often a proscriptive claim about what Jews should do if they are observant Orthodox Jews rather than a descriptive claim about what Jews generally are actually doing.

  30. David Benkof
    June 30, 2008

    I’ve been edited again. I’m outta here. Anybody who wants to talk to me may do so at GaysDefendMarriage.com.

  31. Jim Burroway
    June 30, 2008

    For the record.

    The reason Benkof has been edited was stated in the body of his comment. He has alleged wrongdoing against another party. It is an allegation that he has not substantiated.

    We do not post allegations that we cannot substantiate in some form. David Benkof is free to post all the allegations he wants to on his own web site and accept the liability for it there. OR he can offer substantiation for his allegation in accordance to our comments policy.

    We have two choices in dealing with cases like this. We can insist that everyone substantiate their positions per our comments policy, or we can spend our own time chasing down every single “Fact” to see if it pans out. While we reserve the right to do the latter, the onus is on the commenter to substantiate his or her allegations from the start. We simply cannot chase down everything everyone says.

    I do find it ironic that the very comment that we “censored” him one too many times on, also contains an acknowledgment that he has done the same thing on his blog to enforce his rules. I took a quick look at his blog and could not find where his rules are posted. We however have ours posted, and the links to those rules are displayed prominently above and below the comments form.

    Please be aware, that we are an equal-opportunity enforcer on this rule. People who don’t like it can get their own blogs.

  32. MirrorMan
    June 30, 2008

    werdna, if that were the case, then why his marriage gig? If he only cares that Jews follow that law, why make such as issue out of it? You are basically making my argument for me (not that there is anything wrong with that) that he is using his religion as a mask for his own issues, which actually have nothing to do with his religion and are more about his politics or personal damage than anything else. Again, if he would be honest about such things, I wouldn’t have as much of a gripe as I do, but his deceptions are damaging, and as such, he will get called on it. Sorry if it hurts, but he is the one who said it, published it, and defends it. If it bites him in the ass, well, where did it dtart? And it wasn’t on my blog.

  33. Emily K
    June 30, 2008

    Benkof does not represent the Judaism I follow. Nor does he represent the Orthodox Judaism that I respect. I do not care if he thinks I am not Jewish or that the Jews I love and respect are not Jewish. His opinion is not important to me. I just want to make that clear.

    He also may make blanket claims about “who is Jewish” and who “isn’t Jewish enough” and “what (all [true]) Jews believe” but ultimately I believe Ad-nai and ONLY Ad-nai knows what’s in our hearts. In addition, this attitude only builds barriers between those who should be brethren and certainly does not hasten the coming of the Messiah.

  34. werdna
    June 30, 2008

    MirrorMan-
    Gay marriage falls under the Noahide law which prohibits engaging in sexually immoral acts (adultery, homosex, bestiality, etc.) so it’s his duty as an observant Orthodox Jew and follower of the Lubavitcher Rebbe to stop the gays from getting married. That’s the point you keep missing: some Jews (like Benkof) think it’s their duty to try to get the Gentiles to follow the Noahide laws. The don’t want the Gentiles to follow the laws that apply only to Jews, but they consider it important to promote the laws that they think do apply to Gentiles.

    Benkof quoted Menachem Mendel Schneerson (the Lubavitcher Rebbe) in his open letter to Conservative Rabbis and I’ll repeat the quote here because it gives a good sense of the urgency Benkof seems to feel about his mission:

    “We must do everything possible to ensure that the seven Noahide laws are observed. If this can be accomplished through force or through other kinder and more peaceful means through explaining to non-Jews that they should accept God’s wishes [we should do so]… Anyone who is able to influence a non-Jew in any way to keep the seven commandments is obligated to do so, since that is what God commanded Moses our teacher.”

    Plus, as Alex suggests, it’s a whole lot easier to rail against the gays than to try to make laws against people who blaspheme or worship idols, what with the Bill of Rights and all. Oh, and, murder and theft are already illegal and there’s a pretty decent justice system in the US. So the marriage thing is like low-hanging fruit I guess. It’d be neat if Benkof would devote more of his time to preventing cruelty to animals, but that’s not where his priorities are I guess.

  35. MirrorMan
    June 30, 2008

    werdna, you wrote: “Gay marriage falls under the Noahide law which prohibits engaging in sexually immoral acts (adultery, homosex, bestiality, etc.) so it’s his duty as an observant Orthodox Jew and follower of the Lubavitcher Rebbe to stop the gays from getting married. That’s the point you keep missing: some Jews (like Benkof) think it’s their duty to try to get the Gentiles to follow the Noahide laws. The don’t want the Gentiles to follow the laws that apply only to Jews, but they consider it important to promote the laws that they think do apply to Gentiles.”

    I get that, really. But what David fails to understand is that the first amendment, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”, not only guarantees freedom OF religion, but freedom FROM religion. If my belief is not shared by you, you don’t have to follow it. But he wants to put his religion as superior to mine by enshrining it in writing in the legal constitution. That is unethical, illegal, discriminatory and prejudicial.

    And he has no right to do that no matter what his beliefs are or whatever cosmic muffin he prays to. It’s all well and good that is what God commanded Moses, their teacher, but he wasn’t MY teacher! So pardon me if I take offense to his bleatings. In the words of Soft Cell, “Sorry, I don’t pray that way!”

  36. John
    June 30, 2008

    I am Catholic. I believe that the Catholic Church is still the single largest Christian denomination in the country. However, the Catholic Church is still outnumbered by Protestants and Evangelicals. I would wager that most American Catholics are well aware of these basic religious demographics in this country.

    Jews represent a much smaller religious group, which becomes even more tiny when you restrict yourself to the Orthodox. I can’t imagine anything more self defeating than for Benkof, a member of a minority religious group, to go around advocating the imposition of religious law on those who don’t share it. The more logical path towards self-preservation is to advocate for freedom of (and from) religious tyranny.

  37. Gary
    July 1, 2008

    I’m very pleased to see that Benks has removed his “bio”.

    Only to get angered again with his out of context quote of Legal Marriage Alliance of Washington/Michael Taylor-Judd.

    The “I must have deleted that email” or “It may have gone in the spam filter” excuse has gotten pretty lame.

  38. Timothy Kincaid
    July 1, 2008

    Gary,

    At this point I think it is clear that if anyone wishes to have any measure of control over their own voice, it is in their best interest to only communicate with Benkof in a public forum where the context and content can be verified.

    In addition to the many members of the community that have stated publicly that David Benkof has not accurately characterized their position or their conversation, I have received a number of communications from individuals who have expressed that Benkof has either misstated their views or has berated them when they did not answer his inquiries the way he wished. This has not been restricted to gay people, by the way.

    Because they’ve requested that I not publish their statements, I’ll not name them. Y’all just have to decide whether or not to believe me.

    :)

  39. MirrorMan
    July 1, 2008

    On a similar point, I do not advise taking Benkof up on his invitation to discuss things by either email or on his website. I posted a contradiction to his comment: “In case you haven’t noticed, I have a pretty good track record of placing opinion pieces in major mainstream publications – the Los Angeles Times, the New York Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and so on.”
    Well, the facts are again being played with fast and loose. He has been printed once in the LA Times, on June 5th, 2008, once in the New York post, on Jun. 9, 2008, and twice in the Chronicle, once in 2004 and again in 2008. I can’t get access to the Philadelphia Inquirer without paying a fee, and I am sure not going to waste money on him. My point being, 2 appearances in The Chronicle, spaced four years apart, is not what anyone could conceivably call a “good track record”. The fact that he never posted my comment speaks volumes about his regard for the truth. Since he can’t win an argument in a fair and open discussion, he takes it into an area where he can stack the deck. So much for a fair and level playing field.

  40. Emily K
    July 1, 2008

    he has had one column appear in the Philly Inquirer (my hometown rag.) But seriously, the Inkie is like one step above USA Today, America’s McPaper.

    Still, considering people like Leonard Pitts, Jr. and Dan Savage have the prestige of syndication, yes Mr. Benkof’s resume seems a bit sparse to be able to say he has a “good track record.”

  41. Gary
    July 1, 2008

    Timothy,

    I agree, and I have my own voice. . .I certainly don’t want it to be misinterpreted. At the same time, I feel it’s important to let others know when their words are being corrupted.

    This is why I brought the question “Did you really say this, or is it out of context . . .” to the source. Not only because I suspected foul editing, but a sincere concern about comments from a leader of marriage equality in my home state.

    My voice is small.

    I know better than to engage conversation on his website, but many don’t. . .and fall into the trap.

    MirrorMan said, “The fact that he never posted my comment speaks volumes . . .”. Similar to any AFA or FOF site. . . typical. However, what we can do is call them on the carpet for their lies and misrepesentations when we see them, and do our best to expose lies for what they are. . .Perhaps that’s a blog, a phone call or an email to the party being quoted asking for clarification.

  42. Timothy Kincaid
    July 1, 2008

    Gary,

    We agree entirely. And that is what we try to do here at BTB. Thanks for being a part of that effort.

  43. Gary
    July 1, 2008

    you’re welcome, and thanks again for the forum.

  44. Load More Comments…

Leave a Reply

 

 

 

Back to top
mobile desktop