Box Turtle Bulletin

Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
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Posts for January, 2013

Lafayette’s Jews call for action against boy scouts

Timothy Kincaid

January 17th, 2013

In Contra Costa County across the bay from San Francisco, the little town of Lafayette is a nice place to be. The hills are pastoral, the air is clear, the median family income is about $150 K and homes average over a million. But even amidst this paradise, the Jews are pissed. (Contra Costa Times)

The board of directors of Temple Isaiah voted unanimously this week to oppose the Boy Scouts of America’s decision to disqualify boys because they admit to being gay.

Or, more specifically:

We recommend Temple Isaiah members who are involved with Boy Scouts to advocate for change in the BSA membership policy by taking actions such as:

• Writing letters to BSA protesting its non-inclusive policy;

• Joining and supporting organizations such as Scouts for Equality that are organizing campaigns by boy scouts against the anti-gay policy;

• Working within their troops to oppose the current membership policy and foster diversity and inclusion;

• Withdrawing from troops that support the BSA anti-gay policy and joining troops that are opposed to that policy.

• Exerting financial pressure on BSA by withholding contributions to the national BSA (beyond required dues) and supporting troops that are opposed to the non-inclusive policy, and letting BSA know the reason for this decision; and

• For those considering joining Boy Scouts, postponing joining until the anti-gay policy is changed on a national level or joining a troop that takes issue with the national policy and communicating the reason for this decision to the local council and national organization.

This is part of a decade long effort by Reform Synagogues to walk away from discrimination and bigotry in the Boy Scouts.

Reform Jews Offer Congratulations

Timothy Kincaid

May 15th, 2008

The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism has issued a statement in support of today’s California Supreme Court Decision.

The Reform Jewish Movement has long been committed to welcoming GLBT Jews into our congregations, synagogues and communal life and strongly supports legislative efforts to provide equal opportunity through civil marriage for gay and lesbian individuals. As we teach our children, all individuals are created b’tselem elohim, in the image of the Divine; today’s ruling reflects that concept of inherent equality.

This is a historic day, a day to celebrate. Tomorrow, however, is the day to begin organizing against the all-but-inevitable initiatives to amend the state’s constitution to ban same-sex marriage equality. As soon as we finish today’s victory toast, we are ready to roll up our sleeves and get to work.

Their efforts are more than welcome.

A Happy Dilemma for Gay and Lesbian Jews

Timothy Kincaid

March 21st, 2008

gaystar.bmpSometimes you come across a problem that seems more of reason for celebration than a reason for concern: My raise put me in a new tax bracket; My friends are throwing me a birthday party on the day of American Idol results; All the candidates for my congressional district are supportive of my rights, have great ideas about the economy and local jobs, and all have a creative solution for Iraq.

What’s a guy to do?

The Jewish Daily Forward reports just such a dilemma for gay Jews. In the 70’s, the major branches of Judaism were not supportive of their gay members so separate synagogues were established.

But since that time our Jewish brothers and sisters have achieved incredible support from the leaders of their faith. The Reconstructionist and the Reform branches both endorse marriage equality (under civil law) and the Conservative branch allows rabbis to determine whether they will perform same-sex ceremonies. Only Orthodox leaders are not supportive of gay equality.

But now gay synagogues face a serious question:

As the mainstream Jewish world has increasingly accepted gay and lesbian Jews, gay-and-lesbian-founded synagogues like Bet Haverim have grappled with questions that go to the core of their identity: How accepting should they be of straight members? Can they accept straight members and still remain distinct? Is there still a future for gay and lesbian synagogues, or will they slowly merge into the mainstream?

You see, it seems that straight Jewish families like the friendliness of gay synagogues and want to join. They aren’t worried about what the neighbors may think nor are they squeamish that someone may look at them funny. In fact, some seem more at home than in a more conventional synagogue.

Oy vey!

Now I do recognize that this is a genuine issue of concern. It truly does continue to be of vital importance that gay Jewish kids growing up in non-supportive families have models to look to.

“There are people who reach out to us from all over the world — from phone booths in [the ultra-Orthodox Brooklyn enclave of] Boro Park, e-mails from Kansas and Pakistan,” Cohen said. “The fact that there is a gay synagogue gives people hope in an incredible and lifesaving way.”

But, nonetheless, too much support and inclusion is a problem I’d gladly welcome in the Christian faith.

So to our gay Jewish readers I say, “Congratulations on your terrible problem. And thank you for creating within the Jewish community in America some of our strongest allies.”