August 10, 2015

Same-Sex Marriage: Re-Reading the Levitical Text

Doron M. Kalir, Cleveland State University College of Law, has published Same-Sex Marriage and Jewish Law: Time for a New Paradigm? as Cleveland-Marshall Legal Studies Paper No. 15-284. Here is the abstract.
In recent years the Supreme Court, as well as important segments of society, has come to accept and even celebrate same-sex relations that in the past, and for some still today, have generated contempt, hostility, and violence. This change in law and culture poses a unique challenge for those who are moved by the plight of gay people yet concomitantly feel bound by their religious convictions and therefore prevented from providing religious legitimacy to people who yearn to be part of their community. Professor Kalir meets this challenge by proposing that the Torah (and Jewish law), read in context, accepts homosexuality and treats gay people as equal members of the community. It does not plainly stigmatize and condemn them to the fringes of society, as people have previously thought on the basis of two verses in Leviticus. In a sophisticated, contextualized, and comprehensively-informed interpretation of the Levitical text, Kalir shows that a much more benign interpretation of the notorious verses in Leviticus is as plausible as (or more plausible than) the standard construction. In this new interpretation, the prohibition in Leviticus stigmatizes only one sort of homosexuality — that which occurs between members of the same extended family, i.e., incestuous homosexuality.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

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