Unable to make up her mind about a pending “civil unions” bill, Hawaii’s governor is doing what any sensible person would do — getting advice from dueling rabbis:
Rabbis Itchel Krasnjansky and Peter Schaktman hail from different branches of Judaism and hold starkly contrasting views on whether same-sex couples should be permitted to form civil unions in Hawaii.
What they have in common is the ear of Republican Gov. Linda Lingle, who has until June 21 to announce whether she may veto the only pending civil unions legislation in the nation.
Lingle, in the final months of her second and last term, faces a momentous decision that carries political and legal implications. For the rabbis, with whom the governor has consulted on the issue, her choice is about much more.
For our benefit, both rabbis have written op-ed pieces outlining their views.
The anti-gay rabbi, for instance, wisely observes that a 12th-century Torah scholar believed that homosexuality is simply a lifestyle choice:
Whether homosexuality is a choice or a predetermined tendency. According to the famed medieval Jewish doctor and philosopher Maimonides, an early codifier of Jewish law, it is a matter of choice. And, as with all matters of free choice, one can choose to either surrender to or deny these inclinations.
Maimonides also believed that the earth was at the center of the universe, surrounded by “heavenly spheres” that are in fact “angels.” It’s too bad the rabbi couldn’t somehow work this into his argument, but you know how editors are.
The pro-gay rabbi, on the other hand, insists that ancient views of ‘gay’ sin no longer apply in today’s Hawaii:
Those who object to the bill on religious grounds tend to be literalists who justify their view by pointing to Leviticus 18. The problem is that by reading this text so literally, they completely remove this Scripture from an ancient social context that could not envision the possibility or appreciate the reality of loving same-sex relationships.
Why do ancient views of anything apply in today’s Hawaii? I can’t wait to read his next op-ed and find out.