Letter to the Editor: Week of March 30

Rabbis oppose proposed amendment

As clergy serving a faith community that strives to be inclusive of all people, we, the members of the St. Louis Rabbinical Association, express our opposition to Missouri Senate Joint Resolution 39 (SJR39) and urge Missouri legislators to vote against this proposed constitutional amendment (read the bill at http://bit.ly/SJR39).

The St. Louis Rabbinical Association membership includes rabbis from all branches of Judaism serving congregations and organizations in the St. Louis and Springfield areas, administering to and teaching our whole Jewish community. We do not believe our state constitution should enshrine discrimination against our congregants and members.  That would be contrary to the values of most Missourians and the ideals of the United States, as well as contrary to our religious values as Jews.  

As rabbis, we have a special responsibility to speak out against this legislation because much of the proposed amendment is intended to protect the “sincere religious belief” of clergy and houses of worship. This intention is completely spurious — our religious freedom to perform only those marriages we believe are sanctioned by our religion is already protected and is not under threat. 

Freedom of religion should not be used as a justification for discriminating against people in businesses licensed to serve the public. Discrimination against any Missourian is wrong and has no place in our state, and especially not in our constitution. Missourians deserve better.

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We do not want this passed on behalf of clergy or in the name of religious freedom. We ask Missouri’s legislators to vote ‘no’ on SJR39. 

Submitted by St. Louis Rabbinical Association President Rabbi James B. Bennett; SLRA officers Rabbi Amy Feder, Rabbi Roxanne Shapiro and Rabbi Noah Arnow; and SLRA members Rabbi Barbara Block, Rabbi Josef Davidson, Rabbi Randy Fleisher, Rabbi Andrea Goldstein, Rabbi James Stone Goodman, Rabbi Elizabeth Hersh, Rabbi Brad Horwitz, Rabbi Ari Kaiman, Rabbi Justin Kerber, Rabbi Tracy Nathan, Rabbi Carnie Rose, Rabbi Brigitte Rosenberg, Rabbi Dale Schreiber, Rabbi Scott Slarskey, Rabbi Lane Steinger, Rabbi Jeffrey Stiffman, Rabbi Deana Sussman, Rabbi Susan Talve and Rabbi Jonah Zinn

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