A typical reaction to my prior posts and to comments that I've made on this topic elsewhere in the J-Blogosphere goes something along these lines:
Why should a Frum Jew care at all about the marriage Equality Bill recently passed by the NY State Legislature? How does it affect the Frum Community? What real difference will it make in our observance or Yiras Shomayim if the far-removed-from-us LGBT-ers have what they refer to as a "Civil Union" or a "Marriage"? Why be such a busybody? We live in a land of separation of Church and State, why impose our own religious based values on other US Citizens? Hasn't this wall-of-separation benefited us in the past and kept the governments grubby hands out of our lifestyles and institutions? Why would we want to jeopardize that? If we fight to take away Gay Marriage what's to stop them from fighting to take away Milah/Metzitzah or Shekhita? Do we really want to align ourselves with Catholics and the X-tian Right?
These are all good and well-intentioned questions. Full disclosure: I cannot, nor will I even attempt to, answer all of them. But I'd like to share something with you that IMO makes this battle qualitatively different from previous Church-State battles over school prayer, tuition vouchers and public displays of religious symbols et al.
The preamble to the Parsha of Arayos= Sexual Morality in the Torah reads:
כְּמַעֲשֵׂה אֶרֶץ-מִצְרַיִם אֲשֶׁר יְשַׁבְתֶּם-בָּהּ, לֹא תַעֲשׂוּ; וּכְמַעֲשֵׂה אֶרֶץ-כְּנַעַן אֲשֶׁר אֲנִי מֵבִיא אֶתְכֶם שָׁמָּה, לֹא תַעֲשׂוּ, וּבְחֻקֹּתֵיהֶם, לֹא תֵלֵכוּ. =After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do; and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do; neither shall ye walk in their statutes.
It seems Ancient Egyptian and Canaanite Civilization were synonymous with sexual immorality. Furthermore the plainest meaning of the text indicates that this was not a mere haphazard social trend allowed in an Über-tolerant society but that there was a statutory-legislative element to this immorality. The Safruh Akhrei Mos 6:9:8 expands on this:
כְּמַעֲשֵׂה אֶרֶץ-מִצְרַיִם ; וּכְמַעֲשֵׂה אֶרֶץ-כנַעַן לא תַעֲשׂו יכול לא יבנו בניינות ולא יטעו נטיעות כמותם תלמוד לומר"וּבְחֻקֹּתֵיהֶם, לא תֵלֵכוּ". לא אמרתי אלא בחוקים החקוקים להם ולאבותיהם ולאבות אבותיהם. ומה היו עושים? האיש נושא לאיש והאשה לאשה. האיש נושא אשה ובתה והאשה ניסת לשנים. לכך נאמר : וּבְחֻקֹּתֵיהֶם, לֹא תֵלֵכוּ"
My humble adaptation:
What does the Torah mean when it prohibits "doing as the Egyptian did (the Canaanites do)"? Is it teaching us that we are forbidden to build homes or plant gardens since the Egyptians did such things? No. The prohibition is limited to (activities covered by) the depraved statutes that the Egyptians and Canaanites legislated for many generations (such that these laws became their infamous international reputation).
And what was it that the Egyptians/ Canaanites "did" (i.e. legislated)? They had laws legalizing male and female homosexual marriage, allowing a man to marry both a mother and a daughter and allowing a woman to marry multiple men!
IOW the progressive and forward thinking ANE civilizations had even broader marriage equality than NY State does, and, they had it thousands of years earlier! I lack the time and the strength to transcribe and translate any more of the Safruh but scan the page that I linked (and the one before it) and you will find that per the Safruh...
A. The Egyptians and Canaanites of that time and place had the most immoral civilizations ever and...
B. That it was this legislative immorality that doomed these civilizations and through which they, essentially, forfeited their right to exist.
It's one thing to tolerate the Toevah of homosexual activity but a far more immoral thing to accord it legal/ statutory sanction. And so quite aside from any narrow internal or cultural osmosis Jewish/ Kharedi concerns good citizenship compels us to fight against marriage equality legislation. Think of it as doing your jury duty, paying your taxes or opposing unsafe nuclear reactors. Such legislation puts all residents of the societal entity that passes such legislation at risk. Not at risk of becoming a homosexual but at risk of becoming a corpse. Maybe the Gedolim did not go far enough when they said that passage of the bill will make it impossible for a Jew to live in New York State. Perhaps it will make it untenable for anyone to live in this state. While I deny that I am homophobic I will concede that I am homo-legislation-phobic
Even if there were no existential threat on account of such legislation, and even if we do nothing internally within the Jewish community to mimic or sanction this legislation (although heterodox branches of Judaism are, in fact, doing so) do we really want to reside in a State that sets the Gold Standard for depravity and immorality? Meeting, and perhaps surpassing, that of the ancient Egyptians? To me this is akin to what distinguishes German Genocidal Antisemitism from the generic kind. Sure there were Romans, Crusaders and Cossacks who mass murdered Jews long before the Holocaust. But it took Nazi Germany to give us the Nuremberg Laws and give antisemitism a legal imprimatur.
בא המבדיל והעמידן על אחת
"Those who cannot tolerate Havdala cannot appreciate Qedusha"