Agudas Yisroel Decries “Capitulation” Of NYS Legislature on Marriage


rabbi-zwiebelFriday night’s decision in Albany that New York State will follow the example of five other states, the District of Columbia and an Indian tribe in Oregon and will issue marriage licenses to couples of the same gender was denounced by Agudas Yisroel of America as a “capitulation to a lamentable contemporary Zeitgeist.”

Agudah’s executive vice-president, Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, warned that the legislation not only decrees “an ‘Orwellian’ redefinition of marriage” in the Empire State but endangers the religious rights of Orthodox Jews and other traditionalists.

Although the legislation includes certain limited protections for religious organizations and educational institutions, Zwiebel said that “unfortunately, in the realm of the practical, granting religious organizations permission to act in accordance with the tenets of their faiths – who would have ever thought that such ‘concession’ would ever be necessary in a free country? – is insufficient to protect New Yorkers’ religious rights.

“For one thing, while the law permits religious groups to not recognize same-sex marriages with regard to their employment policies and employees’ benefits, it does nothing to protect such groups from being penalized for their position, for instance being denied government funding for their social service projects.

“This is especially surprising, considering that the law does extend such protections with respect to a religious organization’s refusal to make its facilities or services available for a same-sex marriage ceremony. Why wasn’t the same protection against penalty also made available with respect to a religious organization’s employment policies?

“What is more, the law offers no protection whatsoever to religious individuals. If a wedding-hall owner or baker considers a same-[gender] ceremony to violate his or her sincere religious convictions and opts to not provide services to a same-[gender] couple, that will, outrageously, constitute a violation of state law.”

Asks Rabbi Zwiebel: “Since when are individuals less entitled to religious liberty protection than organizations and institutions?”

Over recent weeks, Agudath Israel mobilized New York members of its constituency – New York’s population includes the largest concentration of Orthodox Jews in the country – to let their legislators know their views on the matter of redefining marriage. In addition, organizational officials spent several days in Albany meeting with key legislators and government leaders.

Agudath Israel also laid out for members of the New York State Assembly and Senate the moral case against redefining marriage; forwarded a statement signed by Agudath Israel and five other Orthodox Jewish groups (Central Rabbinical Congress of the U.S.A. and Canada, National Council of Young Israel, Rabbinical Alliance of America, Rabbinical Council of America, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America) expressing the unanimous conviction of Orthodoxy in support of traditional marriage; and circulated a comprehensive analysis, by six law academics, of how a redefinition of marriage without adequate safeguards, would conflict with religious liberties.

Religious rights ramifications aside, Zwiebel averred that “the passage of this law tragically illustrates how flimsy the notion of ‘morality’ is in a secular society.

“What was once universally acknowledged as a deviant lifestyle is now granted the name marriage – just as what was once considered murder is today simply a woman’s constitutionally protected ‘right’ to ‘reproductive freedom.’ When moral standards are disconnected from the eternal truths of Sinai, they have no permanence or value.

“Let us use this shocking development to remind at least ourselves, as believing Jews, that right and wrong are determined not by partisan politicians but by humankind’s Creator.”

{Noam Newscenter}


  1. The new legislation is patently discrimnatory and must be repealed. Outrageously, it does not allow for incestual or polygamous marriages. It is absolutely astoudning that the media is silent on this issue. In order to give marriage freedom for all, we must fight for those who are disenfranchised. Someone must shout: “Incestual and polygamous marriages NOW !!!!”

  2. we must scream loudly on behalf of incestual and polygamous marriages. This way, everyone will agree that so-called “marriage freedom” is counter to society’s good.

  3. This whole sugiya is just another demonstration of how you American Jews are so heavily invested in your diaspora communities that you desperately cling to them by your fingernails, like passengers clinging to a sinking ship.

    Look how you fight tooth-and-nail to try to make the secular society conform to Torah norms, rather than leave a morally degenerating socity and return to Eretz Yisrael. The Ribbono Shel Olam is sending you signs all over the place that golus-America has come to an end and that it’s time to leave. But you are all so blind and stubbornly cling to your golus. Joining the geula — which is happening right NOW — you refuse to do.

    An American Rav (a talmid muvhak of Rav Hutner zt”l) told me many years ago that the greatest tyna that HaKadosh Baruch Hu will have against this generation of disapora Jews is that they refuse to make aliyah and stubbornly remain in chutz l’aretz. I will repeat once again a quote from Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld zt”l: “Many times have I directed that the religious Jews in the diaspora be instructed that anyone who has the ability to come to Eretz Yisrael and doesn’t, will have to account for his FAILURE in Haolam Haba.” [Ha’ish Al Hachoma, vol. II, p. 149]

  4. Good statement, yasher koiach.

    However, it should be noted that it was not just “capitulation to a lamentable contemporary Zeitgeist.”

    It was also capitulation to the terroristic tactics to the supporters of the immorality. They bullied and intimidated people with impunity.

    Those who voted for this rubbish need to be penalized. Throw them out at the earliest opportunity and maybe one day we will have a responsible legislature and governor that will overturn the dangerous nonsense.

  5. Spoken very well. The proof is in the putting, though. Let’s see if our mosdos will stop honoring politicians who support & promote hashchasa behaviour. You can’t condemn their actions on the one hand & then honor them, down the road, on the other hand.

    Water under the bridge. Let’s go vytar. Kllal Yisroel will be watching who is endorsed in next years election. Hatzlacha Raba!

  6. And if a Christian thinks that hiring, selling to, or providing services for, Jews, is a violation of “his or her sincere religious convictions” they face criminal penalties as well.

    That’s what anti-discriminatory laws mean, and they have been a boon for the Jewish people in America.

  7. Thank you to those who strongly endorsed Shelly Silver in last years election and for coming out strongly against conservative Carl Palidino who was apposed to same gender marriage. Thank you also for honoring Sheldon Silver at an annual dinner.

  8. To Aliyah Now

    He didn’t say to make aliyah because there was no State at that time. I would advise you no to use the words of our gedolim out of context for your own personal agendas. Think of the history and backround first. The dynamics of the Jewish and the whole world back then were very different. I’m assuming you read the rest of that book you quoted. Maybe read it again to get a better understanding of R’ Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld’s position concerning the Zionists. I don’t think he would encourage “making aliyah”. That is very different to “moving” to Eretz Yisroel. Hashem yishmor! Many people fail to make that distinction.

  9. I also guess you will be enjoying the Mitz’ad HaGa’ava and the Malcha Beach Party. Who’s in galus as long as we are in Eretz Yisroel. Right?

  10. every jewish person should read what it says in the medrish rabbah parshas beriashis perek chof vov seif heih!!!! evreyone will understand that we must make a machah on whats going on we can not live life and alow this minuval thing like this take place!!!!!!!