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Religious Tolerance logo

Reform Judaism and homosexuality

Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC)

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See also an essay on the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR)

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Review of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC):

The Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC) is an umbrella group representing 860 Reform synagogues across the US. They have stated that: "In accordance with the teaching of Reform Judaism that all human beings are created 'Betselem elohim' (in the divine image), Reform Judaism has strongly condemned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation."

They have "been in the vanguard of the support for the full recognition of equality for lesbians and gays in society." In 1993, they noted that "committed lesbian and gay couples are denied the benefits routinely accorded to married heterosexual couples"; they resolved that full legal equality for lesbians and gays requires legal recognition of their relationships.

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Statements by the UAHC:

  • 1987: "The Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC) reaffirmedits commitment to welcoming gay and lesbian Jews into its congregations andencouraging their participation in all aspects of synagogue and communal life." 1

    They passed a resolution to:
    • Urge its congregations and affiliates to:

      1. Encourage lesbian and gay Jews to share and participate in worship, leadership, and general congregational life of all synagogues.

      2. Continue to develop educational programs in the synagogue and community which promote understanding and respect for lesbians and gays.

      3. Employ people without regard to sexual orientation.

    • Urge the Commission on Social Action to bring its recommendations to the next General Assembly after considering the report of the [Central Conference of American Rabbis] CCAR committee and any action of the CCAR pursuant to it.

    • Urge the Committee on Liturgy to formulate liturgically inclusive language. 2

  • 1989: UAHC passed a resolution to:

    1. "Reaffirm its 1987 resolution and call upon all departments of the UAHC and our member congregations to fully implement its provisions.

    2. Embark upon a movement-wide program of heightened awareness and education to achieve the fuller acceptance of gay and lesbian Jews in our midst.

    3. Urge our member congregations to welcome gay and lesbian Jews to membership, as singles, couples, and families.

    4. Commend the CCAR for its sensitive and thorough efforts to raise the consciousness of the rabbinate regarding homosexuality. We urge the CCAR to pursue its own mandate with vigor and complete its tasks as soon as possible in order to respond to the communal and spiritual aspirations of gay and lesbian Jews." 2

  • 1993: "Rabbi Alexander M. Schindler, President of the UAHC, called upon theReform Movement to support the right of gay and lesbian couples to adoptchildren, to file joint income-tax returns, and to share in health and deathbenefits provided to heterosexual couples by federal, state, and localgovernments and by both large and small corporations." 1

    The UAHC passed a resolution that year noting that "committed lesbian and gay couples are denied the benefits routinely accorded to married heterosexual couples." 3 They resolved that full equality under the lawfor gay men and lesbians requires legal recognition of monogamous domestic gayand lesbian relationships.

  • 1997: A major UAHC General Assembly resolution calledfor recognition for lesbian and gay relationships:

    • By governmentallegislation as to participation in health plans and survivor benefits, as tofitness to raise children, and as to legal acknowledgment of the relationship;and

    • By congregations and institutions of the Reform Movement to extendbenefits to partners of staff members and employees.

    The resolution further stated that:

    "In the years since first theUAHC and subsequently the CCAR gave their support for full equality for gay menand lesbians in congregational life, gay men and lesbians have increasingly comeforward to participate in the life of Reform Judaism on national, regional, andlocal levels. No less than heterosexual couples, gay men or lesbians living inmonogamous domestic relationships have demonstrated, like their counterparts,love for one another, compassion for the sick, and grief for thedead.

    The UAHC has for decadesprovided moral leadership to the Jewish community and to our nation, recognizingour differences and diversity, but acknowledging that we are but one family,equal before God. In this spirit, the UAHC must now move more forcefully tosupport the monogamous domestic relationships of gay men andlesbians.

    Legal recognition ofmonogamous domestic gay and lesbian relationships and congregational honoring ofthese couples will together provide these men and women and their families withdignity and self esteem.

    THEREFORE, the Union ofAmerican Hebrew Congregations resolves to:

    • Support secular efforts topromote legislation which would provide through civil marriage equal opportunityfor gay men and lesbians;

    • Encourage its constituentcongregations to honor monogamous domestic relationships formed by gay men orlesbians; and

    • Support the efforts of theCCAR in its ongoing work as it studies the appropriateness of religiousceremonies for use in a celebration of commitment recognizing a monogamousdomestic relationship between two Jewish gay men or two Jewish lesbians. 1 1996: "The CCAR adopted a resolution supporting the right ofgay and lesbian couples to share fully and equally in the benefits of civilmarriage." 1

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Webmaster's note:

In common with most other religious organizations, the UAHC differentiates between domestic relationships formed by "gay men orlesbians" and "heterosexual couples." Both terms deny recognition of bisexuals -- persons who are sexually attracted to both men and women. We recommend the use of the terms "same-sex couples" and "opposite-sex couples." Such terms are inclusive of heterosexuals, bisexuals, gays, and lesbians.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. DonRossoff "Homosexuality," Union for Reform Judaism. at:
  2. "Reform's position on ... homosexuality," Soc.Culture.Jewish Newsgroups, at:
  3. "Report to the CCAR Convention, June, 1998," Ad Hoc Committee on Human Sexuality, at: (No longer online)
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Home >Homosexuality > Religious impact Religion > Judaism & gays > Reform Judaism > here

Home > Conflict > Homosexuality > Religious impact Religion > Judaism & gays > Reform Judaism > here

HomeJudaism > Homosexuality > Reform Judaism > here

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Copyright © 2000 to 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2000-APR-3
Latest update: 2010-NOV-21
Author: B.A. Robinson

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