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February 12, 1993 - Image 18

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1993-02-12

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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Marranos — individuals
forced to hide their identities
from the dominant society.
The Hebrew prophets, Mr.
President, demand that we
pursue justice. We hope that
you will proceed on your cur-
rent course, and will bring
justice to those soldiers who
have been denied it for so
long."
"The letter is pretty self-ex-
planatory," said Rabbi Darnel
Schwartz of Temple Shir
Shalom in West Bloomfield.
"My response is 'Amen.' This
was a long time in coming."
Rabbi Schwartz said this is
not just a legal issue, but a re-
ligious one also.
"Judaism is about ethical
monotheism. Even though
ancient Jewish law opposes it
(gay sex), that doesn't mean
we should be prejudiced
against gays and lesbians. We
cannot forbid them from cer-
tain areas of life."
In addition, Reform Jewish
leaders said no evidence ex-
ists that the removal of the
ban would "disrupt the effi-
cient and harmonious oper-
ation of the Armed Forces."
Commission Director Eric
Yoffie wrote, " Gays and les-
bian soldiers, who have
served in the Armed Forces
with distinction and who have
fought and died in our coun-
try's wars, must now be giv-
en the right to continue their
military careers without con-
stant fear of discovery and
dismissal."
The Jewish War Veterans
of the United States (JWV),
the Council of Orthodox
Rabbis of Greater Detroit and
the Rabbinical Alliance of
America view the situation
differently.
Last August, at the orga-
nization's national conven-
tion, JWV approved a
resolution labeling as insidi-
ous the effect of open gays and
lesbians in the military. The
resolution also called upon the
Pentagon to "enforce regula-
tions which forbid homosex-
ual acts among U.S. military
personnel."
Jack Schwartz, state com-
mander of JWV in Michigan,
said the local chapter com-
pletely supports the national
stance.
"Whatever the national po-
sition is, we follow it. Our po-
sition is the same as most
other veteran organizations.
And you know what that is."
Mr. Schwartz said.
Mr. Schwartz served in the

U.S. Air Force from 1942
through 1946 as a staff
sergeant.
The Council of Orthodox
Rabbis in Detroit responded
to the issue with a statement
that it is "saddened that we
must respond to what should
be perfectly obvious to any
Jew and moral individual.
"We stand opposed to any
activity that would articulate
support for homosexuality o
any other behavior that is
condemned by our Torah. We
cannot change the eternal
words of God that have been
the source of life for our peo-
ple."
Rabbi Joseph Krupnick of
the Council said the response
is general, rather than specif-
ically addressed to the
tary issue, because gay and
lesbian behavior is wrong in
all contexts.
"We are expressing the
overall idea that this is not

"Gays and lesbians
are being told to
hide."

Maxine Thome

an acceptable lifestyle. Any
action that makes it appeail\
acceptable is incorrect," Rabbi
Krupnick said.
Rabbi Sleutelberg ap- <
proached the issue with a
twist.
"We hear so much from op-
ponents of this initiative —
that gays and lesbians desire
special rights. One could only /1
imagine the uproar if the gay
and lesbian community de-
manded special exemption
from the need to die for one's
country," Rabbi Sleutelberg
said.
"All that is being asked for
is the need and right to defend
the principles for which we,
as Americans, stand," he
added.
Maxine Thome, a member
of Simcha — the Detroit
area's gay and lesbian Jewish
organization — parallels the
issue with the former racial
division of the military.
"Remember the time when
there was a segregated mili-
tary? The difference is peo-
ple of color could not hide who
they were. But gays and les-
bians are being told to hide,"
Ms. Thome said. 'We need to
be visible. As Jews, we are fa-
miliar with what it means to
be invisible. And the danger
in that."



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