Participants hold flags during the gay pride parade in Jerusalem July 29, 2010.
Participants hold flags during the gay pride parade in Jerusalem July 29, 2010. Photo by Reuters
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The rabbinical document that embraces the members of the gay community is important primarily because of what it does include. It recognizes same-sex preference as a matter that is not reparable and calls for gay people to be treated with the same human dignity as others and given the same standing in the religious community as others.

But the document is also important for what it does not say. It does not capitulate to contemporary political correctness, which is not content to show respect and confer equal rights on gay people, but also seeks to confer on same-sex couples the same moral and social status that straight couples have. That approach should be rejected, first and foremost because nature itself has done just that.

That only heterosexual love is capable of bringing progeny into the world reflects the fact that creation, whether in its divine or its evolutionary form, has determined this to be the normative type of sexuality. Even in an era that seeks to divorce sexuality from procreation, the ability to produce children does retain its value, just as the concept of a "normative family" remains valid.

It is legitimate and worthwhile to avoid blurring the distinction between showing human respect to gay people and respecting their right to have children, on the one hand, and viewing the family network they create as being equal to that of a normative family, on the other. This distinction has still greater force with regard to gay pride parades. One can support the desire of gays and lesbians to wage a political struggle for equal rights without endorsing gay pride parades, which spearhead an assertive and brash wide-ranging media and cultural campaign endorsing same-sex preferences.

An unnecessary provocation, the flamboyant approach is unworthy. It is reasonable to assume that the adamant opposition evinced by religious circles in Jerusalem to pride parades does not relate only to the same-sex preferences they express, but also to the flagrantly overt sexual appearance the Tel Aviv events maintain (the same ultra-Orthodox groups would also vehemently oppose sexually flamboyant parades for straight couples ). It redounds to the credit of leaders of the gay community in Jerusalem that they have grasped this fact, and do not insist on staging in Jerusalem an event with a character comparable to the Tel Aviv parades.

But the image associated with the gay community as a result of the pride parades represents a much more serious problem, because it undermines what is presented as the community's main objective, the attainment of equality. If the community is primarily concerned with winning straightforward recognition for its members, flamboyant demonstrations described as pride parades are the last thing that will accomplish this goal.

These parades just reinforce the negative image of gays as people preoccupied with their sex lives and with finding sexual partners. That is not an image helpful to someone who wants to be considered just like everybody else and who seeks recognition for a family he wants to establish. It remains unclear whether anti-gay phenomena of recent years (lest there be any doubt: such actions are illegitimate and wrong, especially when they are violent ) express opposition to the sheer fact of homosexuality or to the provocative manner in which homosexuality has been displayed.

Yes to respect for gay people as human beings and to equal rights for gay people. But a definite no to equal moral status for same-sex couples, and certainly to respect for taking sexuality - whether gay or straight - out of the bedroom and into the street.