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Board of rabbis opposes California anti-gay-marriage initiative

September 26, 2008 | 12:27 pm

Proposition 8 is stirring great fervor this election season, as supporters and opponents of gay marriage gear up for their Nov. 4 duel at the ballot box. Now comes the latest group to weigh in — the Board of Rabbis of Southern California.

The board — a collection of leaders from the Reconstructionist, Reform, Conservative and Orthodox movements — this week declared its opposition to the measure, which would amend the California Constitution to define marriage as only between a man and a woman. Leaders of the board said they wanted protect the civil rights of gay and lesbian couples.

“For many rabbis, it speaks on a personal level in terms of people they deal with whose lives have been impacted over the issue,” said Rabbi Stewart Vogel of Temple Aliyah in Woodland Hills and the board’s president.

The board has more than 290 members. Roughly 120 took part in Wednesday’s vote, the largest number of rabbis to weigh in on such an issue in recent memory. Vogel said Friday that 93% of those who cast votes supported the resolution.

Some voiced concern about the board wading into a political controversy, given the diversity of its members’ religious views. Vogel said the resolution did not address the sanctity of gay marriage. Instead, it urged a "no" vote on Proposition 8 so that gays and lesbians can continue to marry under civil law.

-- Duke Helfand