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Conservative rabbinic group issues guidelines for same-sex wedding rituals

NEW YORK – A landmark vote last week by the Conservative movement’s rabbinic committee has established rituals for same-sex wedding ceremonies, affirming that same-sex marriages have “the same sense of holiness and joy as that expressed in heterosexual marriages.”

The decision by the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly was several years in coming, following a 2006 vote by the committee “favor[ing] the establishment of committed and loving relationships for gay and lesbian Jews.”

But the 2006 responsum declined to specify rituals for establishing gay and lesbian relationships, calling them “complicated and controversial questions that deserve a separate study.”

Last week’s position paper, which was adopted by a vote of 13-0, with one abstention, fills that void by outlining two possible marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples. The paper’s authors, Rabbis Elliot Dorff, Daniel Nevins and Avram Reisner, were also the authors of a 2006 responsum titled “Homosexuality, Human Dignity and Halakhah,” which declared gays eligible for rabbinic ordination.

“This is the next step in the process of bringing about the full inclusion of LGBT Jews,” said Rabbi Aaron Weininger, the first openly gay student admitted to the rabbinical school at the Conservative movement's Jewish Theological Seminary, using the acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. “Visibility of LGBT people as individuals and couples makes us stronger as a Jewish community.”

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