Jews, and occasionally Tablet Magazine, can be somewhat self-congratulatory about our role fighting for gay equality. We support it by an enormous majority—both liberals and conservatives. All four openly gay congress-folk are Jewish or of Jewish heritage (Tammy Baldwin’s maternal grandfather. I was surprised too!), including outgoing Congressman Barney Frank who in July will become the first sitting congressman to marry his same-sex partner. Then, of course, there’s Harvey Milk, the first openly gay politician (and, just for bonus points, before moving to San Francisco campaigned for Barry Goldwater, an Episcopalian of Jewish heritage who would later attack passage of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell).
Joe Lieberman, who wrote a book on Shabbat, was the instrumental voice in getting Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell passed and walked to the Senate on Shabbat to cast his vote.
In New York, Jews on both side of the aisle were pivotal in getting same-sex marriage passed. And then there’s Israel’s excellent (if, like the U.S., imperfect), gay rights record. So excellent, in fact, that being happy about it is called propaganda—by liberals.
In Maryland, which on Thursday signed into law same-sex marriage, it is unclear how actively the Jewish community worked for passage, although former RNC Chair Ken Mehlman (as well as Dick Cheney) lobbied heavily for it. What I wanted to point out is that three of the four states with the largest percentage of Jews, New York, Massachusetts, and Maryland have passed same-sex marriage laws. New Jersey, the second largest, saw it’s legislature pass it easily earlier this year only to see it vetoed by the governor, but with 57 percent of residents supporting it, it won’t be long.
Anyway, the payoff of the small but active part that Jews have played is that in the United States, albeit with over a thousand federal benefits denied due to the Defense of Marriage Act, 36 percent of Jews—and a whole lot of other people—can marry whomever they want.
Dick Cheney and Ken Mehlman Lobby Maryland Legislature on Gay Marriage [Daily Kos]
Governor O’Malley Signs Same-Sex Marriage Bill
Earlier: Gay Marriage on the March
Joe Lieberman Answers Don’t Ask Don’t Tell
In New York, Marriage Came Courtesy G.O.P. Jews.