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Liberals recognise committed same-sex partnerships

Last updated: 2003-06-16

The Union of Liberal and Progressive Synagogues is pleased to announce that committed same-sex partnerships between two Jews can now be recognised by appropriate Jewish ritual and those Rabbis in membership of the ULPS Rabbinic Conference who wish to officiate at such ceremonies have its support to do so.

The Rabbinic Conference recognises that holiness may be present in committed same-sex partnerships and supports the creation of appropriate liturgy for same-sex commitment ceremonies.

This development places the ULPS in the vanguard of institutions offering equity and fairness to gay and lesbian partners. The ULPS Council welcomed the timely policy on this important issue and commended both the clarity and the choices it offers to ULPS Rabbis and constituent congregations.

To contextualise this new policy, there are similar moves afoot in the secular community. Recently, ministers announced a plan to put a consultation paper before parliament later this month giving single sex couples the same legal rights as heterosexual couples as long as they register their relationships in a new civil ceremony, And the European Union Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations are due to come on stream by December 2003.

As Liberal Judaism stresses equality and inclusion, offers respect to all conscientious options and encourages the synthesis of Judaism and modernity, this addition to our accepted practice is fully consistent with our ideology. Whether or not a Rabbi participates in such an act of prayer is to be determined by their own individual conscience. When the ceremony is to take place in a synagogue, it must be with due regard to the views of its rabbinic and lay leadership. While these ceremonies remain an extension of our inclusive nature, they have no status in either Jewish or civil law.

When same-sex partners are from mixed faiths, as in the case of heterosexual partnerships, Liberal Judaism would stress the benefits of the non-Jewish partner converting to Judaism, but would, if the Rabbinic Conference’s conditions were met, offer the couple a mixed faith blessing.

In the case where one partner in a same-sex relationship is the natural or adoptive parent of a child and the intention of the couple is to raise the child jointly in the role of parents (providing the consent of any natural parents involved in raising the child has been given) the couple will be jointly recognised as the parents of the child for religious purposes. Where those parents are of mixed faith, the faith of the child will be determined in accordance with the same ULPS policy that applies to children of heterosexual mixed faith couples.

As the civil legal status of same-sex partnerships evolves, the Rabbinic Conference will consider the manner of registering and de-registering them accordingly.

Liberal Judaism’s new policy means that many gay and lesbian Jews, (roughly 10% of our population), who were previously disenfranchised, can now be more fully included in Liberal Jewish life. This, we truly celebrate.