Welcome! I am Rabbi Jonathan Biatch of Madison, Wisconsin. "Pulpit Perspectives: My Observations as a Congregational Rabbi" is published every two weeks to reflect my observations about life in my congregation and with my members. The opinions expressed here are solely my own. I invite you to join the dialogue!

Monday, May 14, 2012

President Obama and Same Sex Marriage

It was not only a courageous interview, the one in which President Obama acknowledged his support for same sex marriage. It was a moment of leadership. It was an instance when dubious thought and feigned tolerance indeed became acceptance and progress. It was a week when spirits of LGBT citizens were elevated, and they could almost taste complete equality.

Such is the potential of the power of the Presidency.

Much of the criticism that I have heard regarding his statement was political. It involved whether people would agree or disagree with his stand and what that would mean in the presidential election year in which we find ourselves. Would his stand square with the positions of people in the nation, or would they be in opposition?

The naysayers fail to acknowledge the power of the "pulpit" of the President. Perhaps the words of a leader will not simply agree or disagree with the listener.  Perhaps the power of a leader will actually persuade people that ways need to change, that attitudes need to reflect new thinking, and that there can always be innovation in our lives.

In the book of Isaiah (43:19), the prophet notes God's power and potential for renewal. "See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland."  This is a promise: for liberation of feelings of love, and a well-watered orchard for a harvest of countless bounty.

The "way" that President Obama calls us to perceive is not only new (for some), but threatening for them as well. I understand this.

But when we consider the people who will benefit from this kind of progress -- the children who will know whole families again, the partner who will now be able to visit their lover in a hospital bed, the people who can freely express the gender orientation given by God without fear of social disability -- then those people, and all of us, may indeed be free.