An Inside Look at the Conservative Movement's Gay-marriage Guidelines

Ritual guidelines detail two types of same-sex weddings and divorce.

Naomi Zeveloff
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Naomi Zeveloff

After years of deliberation, the Conservative Rabbinical Assembly has provided guidance to rabbis for performing same-sex marriages. The assembly’s Committee on Jewish Law and Standards approved templates on May 31, culminating a six-year-long process that began in 2006 when Conservative leaders first officially sanctioned gay relationships. Created by Rabbis Daniel Nevins, Avram Reisner and Elliot Dorff, the ritual guidelines detail two types of gay weddings, as well as gay divorce. “Both versions are egalitarian,” said Nevins. “They differ mostly in style—one hews closely to the traditional wedding ceremony while the other departs from it.”

Neither template includes kiddushin, a step in the ceremony in which the groom presents his bride with a ring. It is regarded by most traditionally observant Jews as the essence of the ceremony that constitutes it as an act of marriage.

Instead, the templates detail a ring exchange that is based on Jewish partnership law, an established halakhic concept, said Nevins.

“We acknowledge that these partnerships are distinct from those discussed in the Talmud as ‘according to the laws of Moses and Israel,’” said Nevins, referring to the words used in kiddushin, “but we celebrate them with the same sense of holiness and joy as that expressed in heterosexual marriages.”

Read more at the Forward.

Rabbi Menachem Creditor marries Margee Churchon and Kate Smallenburg in California, U.S. Credit: Alison Yin and Adm Golub / Forward

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