Australasian Union of Jewish Students

AUJS: Same-Sex Marriage Statement

AUJS: Same-Sex Marriage Statement

 

By Lexi Kowal / September 19, 2017

Today, AUJS is proud to announce that we support voting YES in Australia’s ongoing Marriage Law Postal Survey to extend civil marriage rights to same-sex couples.

AUJS is committed to providing a voice and platform for every Jewish student across Australia and New Zealand. We are committed to providing our members with an open and pluralistic environment that promotes understanding between different Jewish denominations and other religious faiths.

Acceptance, inclusion and tolerance are values that are rooted in all the work that we do as an organisation. We are constitutionally bound to “Steadfastly condemn racism, prejudice, and injustice wherever it may be found”, in line with the Jewish practice of Tikkun Olam, and we are committed to do so in regards to all issues on which we may be impactful. This is one such opportunity. We believe it is an injustice that LGBTIQA+ couples do not have the same civil rights as heterosexual couples to marry in Australia.

AUJS is the sole and peak representative body for Jewish students across Australia and New Zealand. Furthermore, AUJS is and always will be a proudly diverse organisation. Our LGBTI+ students have always played a significant role in AUJS, as members and leaders alike. They have been our members, our campus Presidents, our regional officers, our State Presidents, our Political Affairs Directors and even our National Chairpersons. We believe all our members deserve the same legal, civil rights to marry.

We have held inclusion Shabbat dinners focusing on the stories and challenges of our LGBTI+ members, and have joined our fellow youth movements in celebrating equality and inclusivity at community pride rallies as well as worked closely with Jewish LGBTI organisations, Dayenu and Keshet.

This decision was made in consideration of the diverse views and backgrounds of our leaders. To ensure that all voices were heard, from campus through to our national executive, we surveyed our elected representatives, and are able to conclude that over ninety percent of AUJS leaders agree that we should publicly support a pro same-sex marriage stance. Furthermore, we intend to formalise this statement through a policy motion at our upcoming Annual General Meeting.

AUJS acknowledges that as a matter of Orthodox Jewish law, same sex marriage is not permissible. We are committed to freedom of religious practice and education and assert that religious leaders must continue to be able to conduct marriage ceremonies in accordance with religious laws. We note that exemption of religious organisations from performing services against their religious laws is bipartisan policy.

While maintaining our support of same-sex marriage, AUJS recognises and supports the right of our members to vote in whichever way they choose and respects members' ability to make their own informed decision on this issue.

However, we highlight that this is a civil matter, not a religious one. Religious marriages are outside the scope of the Marriage Act, which relates only to civil marriages - just as an Orthodox Rabbi does not have to marry a Jew and a non-Jew, a Rabbi will not be forced to marry a same-sex couple. We take note of the couples within our community who are in committed, loving relationships, yet are unable to have these relationships recognised by their state.

It is for these reasons that we as AUJS support voting yes for the same sex marriage postal survey. We strongly believe in marriage equality.

For all those who wish to have their perspective considered on this issue look out for the postal survey which should arrive by September 25th, requests for replacement forms will be accepted between September 25 and October 20th, with surveys to be sent back by October 27th. Visit: https://marriagesurvey.abs.gov.au/

 

Isabella Polgar and Lexi Kowal

National Chairperson and Vice Chairperson

Australasian Union of Jewish Students

www.aujs.com.au

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