A Rabbi Who Conducts Gay Marriages Speaks Out

March 21, 2004

Source: The New York Times


On March 21, 2004 The New York Times reported, "Rabbi Ayelet S. Cohen awoke one morning to find she had turned into a criminal - at least in the eyes of some. With charges brought against two members of the clergy last Monday in relation to same-sex marriage ceremonies conducted in New Paltz, N.Y., Rabbi Cohen realized that she had broken the law by conducting a similar wedding herself. The ceremony, conducted by Rabbi Cohen, 29, of the Congregation Beth Simchat Torah in Greenwich Village for a lesbian couple last July, was identical to the marriage ceremony for a man and woman. The couple stood beneath a Huppah, the traditional wedding canopy, as a cantor sang seven blessings and witnesses signed the Ketubah, the Jewish wedding contract. With another wedding planned in four months, Rabbi Cohen immediately called the New York Board of Rabbis to see if she could be prosecuted for past or future weddings. 'They said that if I signed the Ketubah, I could be charged,' Rabbi Cohen said. 'I am happy to say I did sign it.' Like many New York clergy members who have solemnized same-sex marriages in the past, Rabbi Cohen argued that declaring a church rite effectively illegal breaches the separation of church and state." "The police can read about