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Prejudice From Religious Leaders

Prejudice From Religious Leaders

 I read your very thoughtful piece on same-sex wedding announcements with great interest (“Tolerance, Tradition Collide Same-Sex Union Row,” Oct. 15). I am a psychiatrist in Houston. My partner and I have been together since 1979. Same-sex marriage is unconstitutional in Texas, but in June of 2008 we were married in California in a combined civil/religious ceremony, officiated by a Reform rabbi.

As a psychiatrist I have seen adolescents and young adults who are in turmoil about their sexual identity. Some of these patients have been bullied at one point or another in their school settings. Many have suffered from severe anxiety and depression; some have made suicide attempts. A number of them have been Jewish.

Although I am a Reform Jew, I have great respect for Orthodox Judaism. However, it is apparent to me that comments, teachings and, yes, prejudices from religious leaders (and politicians) often contribute to the psychological and psychiatric problems of many gay teens and young adults. It makes no difference whether these views are espoused by the Catholic Church, Evangelical churches or Orthodox Judaism.

My partner and I had a wedding announcement with a picture published in our local Jewish Herald-Voice, which, incidentally, recently celebrated its 100th anniversary. Our marriage means nothing legally here in Texas or in the eyes of the federal government. But it was an important lifecycle event for us. And my hope is that somewhere there might be gay teens or families with a gay child who saw it, and whose attitudes might have even been affected by it.

I would imagine Jewish periodicals that have never published such announcements should plan ahead before they make changes. But as society changes, as your article points out, Jewish periodicals by and large change as well. I hope that at some point in the future, this will be a non-issue. Eventually same-sex marriage will become U.S. law (perhaps not in my lifetime), and Jewish periodicals and Orthodox Judaism will have to acknowledge civil law, even though their religious laws are in conflict.



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