(JTA) — Jewish groups on opposite sides of the same-sex marriage debate reacted to a federal court’s decision to repeal California’s Proposition 8.
Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker on Wednesday overturned Proposition 8, which defines marriage under state law as only between a man and woman, ruling that the law is unconstitutional.
He stated that the freedom to marry is recognized as a fundamental right protected by the due process clause of the U.S. Constitution.
"Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriage on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional," the judge said in his ruling.
In a statement issued Wednesday afternoon, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America stated that "Traditional Jewish values recognize marriage as being only between a man and woman."
"In addition to our religious values – which we do not seek to impose on anyone – we fear legal recognition of same-sex “marriage” poses a grave threat to the fundamental civil right of religious freedom," the statement continued.
"Forcing a choice between faith and the law benefits no one," the statement added, concluding that it looked forward to the appeals process.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism welcomed the judge’s ruling, a decision which "reaffirms the strong commitment to equality upon which our nation is built, " Mark J. Pelavin, associate director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.
"We know, of course, that this decision will be reviewed by other Courts, including in all likelihood, the U.S. Supreme Court. And we know that long march to full marriage equality will not be uninterrupted; there will be victories such as we celebrate today as well as setbacks. But it becomes clearer every day that we are now, finally and blessedly, on a road that is destined to end with justice for gay and lesbian Americans," he said.