Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Frum Gay Marriage

I readily acknowledge, as most people do, that their communities and cultures impact decisions they make in their lives. For some people, it's at what age to get married, for some people it's what standards of dress to adhere to. These are things we look to society to help us decide how to behave or appropriate etiquette. As I take steps in my life, and as I take steps in my relationship, I often find myself wondering what is the Frum and gay society? What are the standards and "norms" that can help inform the decisions I make in my own life? And I know the answer, there are none. Since being Frum and gay is very unique, there is no societal norm or cultural standards to help decisions I need to make.

For one example, there is the issue of marriage. In most Frum communities, marriage is expected of a couple anywhere from the ages of 21-24. After that is fine, but generally many people put the most pressure on themselves during that stage in their lives because society dictated it. In the gay world, the emphasis on marriage is later in one's life, usually a person's early thirties. So which standards should I be adhering to? Religious people get married out of love, and in order for it to be socially acceptable for them to be sharing a life and a home as part of the religious community they must get married. But a religious gay person has no standards for how and when or even if the community will accept them as a couple.

An blogger this week, found here (Loveless Marriages), argues that secular marriages revolve around love and intimacy while Jewish marriages revolve more around community and family, and for this reason, it may not be such a bad idea for same-sex attracted men and women to marry each other as part of continuing our communities and traditions. In addition, the author hypothesizes that this is why secular marriages breakup, while more religious marriages stay together- because of community. I strongly disagree with this, and felt my opinion complements what I have written above.

To build the foundation of a marriage simply on community and platonic love, is not enough to sustain it, in my opinion.  What it takes is community and intimate love, together. Frum and gay people need to start building standards and setting norms to support each other. It is extremely confusing for a gay man or gay woman in the orthodox community, and while pressures to adhere to norms are strong, I think (yes, my own opinion) that everyone needs love and intimacy to sustain a marriage- even religious people- and for that reason, opposite-sex homosexuals marrying one another is not a solution, but only perpetuates the problem of orthodox Jews unwilling to address the issues of gay people in the community. 


  1. I truly don't understand this post. Frum Orthodox marriage is a holy sanctification between two individuals that in Jewish ORTHODOX frum societies will never be sanctioned between two men. Based off that fact alone, this post has no factual standing to begin with.

    If you want to talk about marriage defined by the government and/or civil unions, then you have what to say. But saying there is something called "frum" gay marriage is an oxymoron.

    I think the more I read your posts, the more confused I am getting about how you define Orthodox Judaism and on top of that, it is becoming more clear that deep down, your current ideology of what is Orthodox Judaism is something filtered down and more progressive towards Conservadox or Conservative if anything.

  2. Ely,
    The challenge you discussed above is one that I have written about a number of times. The solution does not require the creation of a new standard to apply to gay frum Jews. Rather, we gay frum Jews need to adapt the old standards of love, intimacy, family and community (I think a stable Jewish union revolves equally around all these factors) to our situation. For example, you mention that religious couples need to get married to express their affection in an acceptable manner. Though it will not be immediately recognized as legitimate, the gay frum application of this standard would be to scrutinize acceptable intimacy through similar pre and post-marital lenses.

    I find it comical that you are so ready to recognize a discussion about government recognized gay marriage but not, heaven forbid, frum gay marriage. Your opinions closely parallel the right leaning Americans that refuse to acknowledge the “gay” adjective to marriage. They would take offense at your statement. You must recognize that, from my read of this post, Ely did not write about trying to create a halachic union between gay frum Jews, but about setting the bedrock of a relationship between two observant gay men.

  3. Anon 2: Ely is not asking your permission to get marry to man. His blog is for his thoughts. He could think whatever he wants. If you have problem with it, then don't read his blog. He didn't ask Hashem to be a gay. He is struggling with his gender identity (which is by nature not by choice) and Orthodox community don't accept gay marriage. He is playing all different kinds of scenarios to find the way to let frum gay people into the jewish society. Ely am i on the track? if I am not, please correct me....

  4. Anon 1:
    As I have said a number of times, I do not believe in Halachic marriage for gay men. There is no such thing, and there never will be based on the standards Rabbis have set for us. This post does not talk about Halacha at all, it just talks about frum gay Jews knowing what to do in situations like civilly marrying someone of the same sex. Secondly, I do admit to being liberal, but that doesn't mean that I definitively need to be pushed into another "category" of Judaism.

    Stubborn and Strong:
    Thank you for our support. I deleted anon 2's comment because it provided nothing of value to the conversation, just words of hate. However, I must explain that my struggle is not gender identity. That would be a struggle of whether I am male or female, which I do not struggle with. My struggle is with sexual identity, or sexuality, and even so it's a struggle within the community, not a struggle within myself. My identity is stable as a gay man.

  5. Right. I get confused with gender identity and sexuality identity. Thank you for correcting me.

  6. Hi Ely,
    It is a disgrace to put frum gay and marriage in the same sentence. You have correctly stated, " opposite-sex homosexuals marrying one another is not a solution, but only perpetuates the problem of orthodox Jews" bc they lack the intimate love aspect which a regular couple has.
    IT is therefore unfair to compare Jewish Gays with reg Jewish marriage or a goyish Gay marriage- bc in both those circumstances, there is intimacy occurring. (I am assuming and hoping and praying, that when you suggest a Jewish gay marriage it is one of abstinence)
    Either way, there is rly no precedent for ppl in your shoes to follow.

  7. I beg to differ with your statement that it takes "community and intimate love" to build/sustain a marriage. Community is certainly important in sustaining religious identity/affiliation, but when I look at my own marriage and what makes it thrive, I wouldn't put community up there in essential ingredients for the foundation.

  8. Ely,

    I appreciate you reading my post and even that you shared it with others but I believe you have completely misunderstood my post and my point.

    I was not commenting on whether or not this kind of platonic marriage is good or bad. I was simply stating that in a social environment like orthodox Judaism where romance / love / intimacy are mere factors in marriage and rarely the most important factors it is possible to conceive that a platonic marriage could exist.

    That's all.

    I am sorry if you found offense in what I wrote. I appreciate all you do.


  9. Ely,
    I applaud your understanding of yourself and your ability to appreciate who you are in this tumultuous community of ours. However, it is my opinion, that the title of being "orthodox" in the sense of an observant jew can not be applied. At present there is really no getting out of the fact that orthodox = someone who attempts to follow all the laws of the shulchan aruch. The orthodox laws @ this time still deem consensual sex between 2 male adults as illegal. That being said, if you feel that as Jews who are gay need to establish a community -kol hakavod to you, but only within a sociological way. If the Jewish GLBT community starts setting norms of which things are to be accepted and which are not, then you have perpetuated the same ideas from which you are breaking free. You, as a community, will further marginalize the other Jews who are trying to get out of the cave.
    Set an example for the world, let each individual decide what works best for them.

  10. I have same sex attraction yet I am married to a woman and have a family.
    I am not sure if I can talk about love because I am not sure how much in love I am with my wife, we have been married over 20 years and I can not say I am 100% happy, but are any of us.
    I fantasise about being with a man and waste a lot of seed because of that.
    You talk about frum gay marriage, can't you just be happy being frum gay and living with a partner, why do you have to rewrite a book that was handed down by G-D.
    I don't understand some of the comments especially about being with a partner but not have relations that's bullshit, man was made to have sex.
    I don't see where age comes in it either.
    If your already out of the closet then age should not matter just go for it and be happy.
    Is that not what it boils down to in the end happiness and not to care or worry what others think.
    If I could turn the clock back 20 years I don't know what road I would take, may be the one I took or may be the one I fantasise about.

  11. Mark, I'd like to respond point by point-
    First, I'm sorry for your difficult situation and cannot imagine how hard it is. But I can tell you that while no one is 100% happy, that's because happiness is a mood and not a state-of-being. And that with my boyfriend, I feel happier and more amazing then I've ever felt before.
    I can be happy being frum and gay and with a partner, but I just wanted to address that if a couple was looking to legally establish their bond, what would the couple do in that situation. And I am not looking to change anything about Jewish/Halachic law, just talking about civil marriages.
    And I agree- a person shouldn't rely on what age other people do things, and just do what feels right for themselves.

  12. In order to get civilly married, you need to live together. If youre living in the same house as s/o u love, good luck abstaining. Man is a sexual beast


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