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Rabbis Come to Defense of Shapiro

September 25, 2013
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Josh Shapiro

A group of 10 local rabbis came to the defense of Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro, who had backed another county official’s decision to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Montgomery County Register of Wills Bruce Hanes — with the backing of Shapiro and fellow commissioner Leslie Richards — had granted 174 same-sex marriage licenses until a Sept. 13 court ruling forced him to stop. The county plans to appeal the ruling. According to Pennsylvania law, marriage is recognized as being between a man and a woman.

On Sept 4. — the day of the court hearing — an opponent heckled Shapiro before he spoke with reporters in Harrisburg. The Rev. Bill Devlin of the Manhattan Bible Church told Shapiro that “based upon his religious tradition,” he “should be embarrassed by the position that he has taken,” Devlin said, according to Shapiro’s office. 

The Sept. 12 letter to Shapiro was signed by 10 Reform and Conservative rabbis from Montgomery County, all of whom live or work along the Old York Road corridor. They were: Rabbi Howard Avrhum Addison, Rabbi Elliot J. Holin, Rabbi Kevin Kleinman, Rabbi David Glanzberg-Krainin, Rabbi Robert S. Leib, Rabbi Andrea L. Merow, Rabbi Stacy Rigler, Rabbi Seymour Rosenbloom, Rabbi Lance J. Sussman and Rabbi Philip Warmflash.

“We write as Conservative and Reform rabbis in Montgomery County in support of your position, and we hope that same-sex marriages will soon be legal both in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and all over the United States,” the letter states.

“While it is true some members of the Jewish community may not support same-sex marriage, the movements we represent believe that an evolving understanding of Jewish law and Jewish tradition both affirms this right and asks us as Jews to sanctify committed same-sex relationships.”

“This is not about me, this about striving for equality,” Sha­piro told the Jewish Exponent. “To see the Jewish community at the forefront of that quest for equality gives me a sense of pride as a Jewish American.”

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