The Apartheid of Love
By Denise L. Eger Published February 25, 2009, issue of March 06, 2009. The Jewish Daily Forward
The California Supreme Court will hear legal arguments on March 5 about Proposition 8, the constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage that was approved in November by 52% of the state’s voters. The point of law at issue is whether or not Proposition 8 constitutes a legal revision to the state constitution.
I am not a legal expert. But for me, and for the community I serve, this case is about much more than a legal abstraction.
On May 15 the California Supreme Court ruled that marriage was a fundamental right that must be extended to gay men and lesbians. In the months that followed, up until Election Day, some 18,000 gay couples married legally in the state of California.
As a rabbi, I officiated at more than 60 weddings for gay men and lesbians - including one of the first three such marriages performed in California following the court’s ruling. My wife and I - we were married with a ketubah and a chuppah more than 15 years ago - finally gained legal recognition for our relationship.
The couples at whose weddings I officiated tell me that there is a difference in the way their relationships are regarded by themselves and by others. Even if they had been a committed couple for many years, they woke up the day after their legal wedding and saw their rings and their paperwork. They finally felt that they were fully a family, fully next of kin. As Elliot, one of the grooms, said to me: “We have been in a committed relationship for nine years, but after my wedding day I knew and Peter knew we were joined together fully and completely and no one could separate us.”