Monday, July 06, 2015

Stray Gay Thoughts Part 2

Aside from the famous verse in Leviticus, discussed this morning in Part 1,our anti-Obergfell friends use two other passages to justify and legitimize their pre-existing hatred for homosexuality.

Both are from the aggada.

Chullin 92b 
[Ulla says:] These are the thirty commandments which the sons of Noah took upon themselves but they observe three of them, namely,(i) they do not draw up a kethubah document for males (ii) they do not weigh flesh of the dead in the market,2 and (iii) they respect the Torah. 

Points to consider
  • This is not a statement of normative halacha. Ulla is merely sharing a [polemical] observation. Though he lives in a society where, presumably to his regret,  sodomy is allowed and common he is nonetheless glad that men have not gone to the length of issuing marriage contracts to each other. 
  • This passage speaks specifically of marriage contracts. Had Ulla wished to object to the fact that sodomy was legal in his society, he'd have used a different word.
  • Obergfell requires states to license same-sex marriage. It doesn't require men to to issue marriage contracts to each other. Male lovers who wish to solemnize their relationships, or to arrange for things like inheritance, visitation, or child custody have always been allowed to draw up contracts to that effect. The Obergfell ruling did nothing to change that (though, ironically, thanks to Obergfell we'll now likely have fewer of these contracts that so disturbed Ulla.) 
  • Licenses and contracts are not the same. This passage speaks about contracts (and a specific kind of contract) not licenses. Obergfell is about licenses not contracts. 
Beraishis Rabbah 26:5
R. Huna said in R. Joseph's name : The generation of the Flood were not blotted out from the world until they wrote gumsiot in honor of pederasty and bestiality. R. Simlai said: Wherever you find lust, an epidemic visits the world which slays both good and bad.

Points to consider
  • The word "gumsiot" is in doubt. Soncino translates as "nuptial songs" but, in a note, adds that it may also means "marriage deeds." I think nuptial songs is more likely as its hard to see how anyone might imagine that marriage deeds were written for men and animals. (Animals can't enter into contracts). 
  • Because the word is in doubt, the way people handle it provides a reliable window into their politics. Someone who wants to harass and humiliate gays will insist it means marriage deeds, while those noble souls who wish to protect gays from such abuse will insist it means nuptial songs. 

General Rule of Thumb
Anyone employing either of these passages to help him fight the war against gay marriage is providing the rest of us with a fun example of someone reading his hate or his fears into a midrash. Someone predisposed to hate homosexuals will use these passages to legitimize his pre-existing enmity; meanwhile those of us who are not predisposed to oppose homosexuals, might do any of the following:

(1) Passively ignore these aggadot as so many other aggadot are ignored
(2) Use the license given to us by many sages to not only ignore aggadot but to actively disregard them as incorrect or false
(3) Interpret the passages . My "points to consider" above point the way.
(4) Employ some basic common sense, ie, by realizing that the court hasn't done anything to bring more sodomy into the world, and a different ruling wouldn't have decreased the amount of sodomy in the world. So even if you wish to believe that God hates sodomy (when it seems eminently more likely that the hate belongs, not to God, but to the author of the passages cited above) you can still choose to relax knowing that Obergfell hasn't done anything to make sodomy more likely to occur.

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