The following appears on page 6 of the April 22, 2011 Melbourne edition of the Australian Jewish News:
Majority for gay marriage
IN Wentworth, the Sydney electorate with the highest number of Jewish voters, more than 72 per cent of people support same-sex marriage.
That figure comes from a survey conducted by shadow communications minister Malcolm Turnbull after the House of Representatives called on MPs to gauge voter opinion on extending the definition of marriage.
Jewish gay, lesbian bisexual, transgender and intersex group Dayenu has welcomed the results, but the Organisation of Rabbis of Australasia (ORA) said it remained opposed.
Out of 2333 Wentworth residents who responded to the survey, 72.7 per cent said they were in favour of gay marriage. Wentworth takes in the suburbs where a majority of Sydney’s Jews live.
Dayenu president Roy Freeman said the survey’s results were “amazing”.
“It would be great to see a Liberal MP of his standing taking a particular stand on this particular topic,” he said.
ORA president Rabbi Dovid Freilich said his organisation opposed any legislation to legitimise same-sex marriage. “This is not intended to show any discrimination against the gay community, but simply to uphold the sanctity and purpose of marriage, which is the union of man and woman in not only expressing their love for one another, but in also bringing future generations into this world,” he said.
Rabbi Jeffrey Kamins of Sydney’s progressive Emmanuel Synagogue said “new times called for new readings”.
“Both the Progressive and Masorti movements have gone on record to endorse the rights of same-sex couples to have their exclusive committed relationships recognised and honoured by tradition,” he said.
Michael Danby, the MP in Melbourne Ports, which has the highest number of Jewish voters in Melbourne, has invited submissions rather than running a survey.
Today I submitted the following Letter to the Editor:
Thank you for your article on gay marriage. The overwhelming evidence shows a clear change in thought on how modern Australians believe in equality for all citizens.
However, it is evident that Rabbi Freilich does not fully understand about marriage in Australia when he talks about a purpose for marriage, because the federal Marriage Act does not stipulate that a married couple must bring future generations into this world.
Despite this, numerous same-sex couples successfully raise happy, healthy children, even in the Jewish community. If Rabbi Freilich would like to see these children raised with the full support of the Jewish community he should be campaigning for the removal of the legislation preventing marriage equality. His actions will only harm those in same-sex relationships and their children. Is this what the rabbi wants?
I suspect the good rabbi is more interested in blindly following harmful and outdated religious dogma than the welfare of the people in the Jewish community, but I remain open to correction.