To the Editor:
In his ode to State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (July 18 issue), Dr. Asher Mansdorf depicts Silver as a politician who evidently can do no wrong. And indeed, Silver deserves considerable credit for his contributions to issues that concern the Jewish community. I join in offering that praise.
Yet one must examine the flip side as well: for Orthodox Jews and for other faith communities as well, the signal issue of our generation is same-sex marriage. And it is precisely here that Silver failed to stand up for tradition. It was Silver who pushed the envelope on same-sex marriage in the Assembly. Year after year, he ensured that a bill passed that chamber, simultaneously working to reduce opposition in the State Senate. Then, in 2011, Silver colluded with his Senate counterpart, Dean Skelos, to assure that same-sex marriage would become law.
The two managed to create the charade that the bill’s Senate passage was in doubt until the last minute, yet it was obvious that they had, in advance, carefully counted the votes and knew that the Senate would approve the bill. Late on that infamous Friday night, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the bill into law. Silver reportedly expressed regret that he could not attend, because the signing occurred on Shabbat! How hypocritical of Silver. Is not the same Torah that makes Shabbat holy also the Torah that terms homosexual conduct an “abomination”? Is not the same Talmud that specifies writing as a prohibited Shabbat activity also the Talmud that ascribes the destruction of mankind in Noah’s era to the legalization of same-sex marriages?
I suspect that our community is oblivious to the ramifications of the same-sex marriage law. There is no doubt that those who are normalizing homosexual conduct will not stop until that normalization is fully actualized. Permit me to suggest some scenarios. Television shows featuring families headed by same-sex partners have been around for several years. True, one can avoid watching these, but now we have broadcast advertisements featuring same-sex couples. These ads have appeared in programming such as the Olympics, programming that is aimed at the universal public, including children. At the moment, the images of the offending couples pass by quickly; these are being used to prime the public for more pronounced and prolonged imagery.
New York State now includes same-sex couples in its online promotional advertising. Pretty soon, we will see billboards plastered on our streets with these unnatural couplings prominently displayed, for us and our children to see. And why not? If gay marriage is normal, shouldn’t images of same-sex couples be readily available?
And the onslaught will not stop with advertising. For example an Orthodox Jew owns a wedding photography business. If a gay couple asks him to work their wedding and he refuses on religious grounds, he will be sued and he will lose. Contrary to popular belief, while there is a religious exemption in the New York State law, that exemption extends only to religious groups; it does not extend to for-profit businesses.
We continue to be worn down by the assault from the gay-rights movement. Two weeks ago, a major Orthodox newspaper included an advertisement for an Orthodox group that promotes homosexuality as a legitimate lifestyle. Who could have predicted that a newspaper that claims to stand for Torah principles would permit an ad of this nature? The answer is that we are beginning to doubt our own stand on homosexual conduct. But the Torah position is clear, and that position has been held not only by Jews but by religious Christians and Muslims as well. This issue reaches to the core of our societal moral bedrock, and we must not back down.