In the February 8 issue of 5TJT, I penned an open letter to the Orthodox Union, criticizing the organization for certifying products by a company named Big Gay Ice Cream. The Long Island Eshel Support Group’s respectful, heartfelt critique of my letter in the March 15 issue merits a response.
Eshel’s members are courageous parents who must confront the difficult proposition that their children identify as LGBTQ. And I do sense the pain of these children, struggling with finding their place when that place diverges drastically from traditional expectations.
Still, is Eshel’s goal simply one of support for these parents and their children? As detailed on Eshel’s website, a 2018 retreat resulted in the following declaration: “We want our LGBTQ child to be as happy as any heterosexual child and to find a life-long partner.” Here Eshel effectively endorses same-sex activity; It should be self-evident that no Orthodox Jew can support a sentiment of this nature.
The Eshel letter makes incorrect assumptions about me. Yes, I do recognize that the issue of homosexuality transcends communities. Further, I fully concur that we must not push children (or adults) away simply because of their sexual preference/orientation. The letter asks whether, if I had a lesbian daughter, would I deny her child access to a yeshiva. The answer is no. A Jewish child is a Jewish child and must be fully accepted into our educational system. Just as we must not push away kids who have trouble with Shabbat observance or other fundamentals of our faith, so must we open our arms to those who identify as gay. Simultaneously, we cannot give sanction to sinful behaviors.
Moreover, I am against general discrimination based on sexual preference or orientation. For example, I believe that gay partners should have the right to share medical insurance and inheritance rights. By contrast, I fully support the right of the baker in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case to refuse to fashion a cake for a same-sex wedding; one must not be forced to compromise dearly held principles.
None of this, however, pertains to my letter regarding Big Gay Ice Cream. It is one thing to offer support for gay individuals. It is quite another to recognize same-sex relationships as legitimate. Simply put, Jewish law deems homosexual conduct to be immoral and corrosive. Moreover, traditional Christianity and Islam share our view.
And it is this collective religious outlook that has shaped much of our society’s legal codex. Murder, theft, and other sins are not perceived simply as incompatible with a functioning society. Rather, they are perceived as moral wrongs that undermine our culture. From where does this moral judgment come? It emanates from a common weltanschauung that has helped define our society for centuries. It is only because G-d gave us moral instruction that we can determine morality.
It is precisely here that my criticism of the OU is centered. Why would a company specifically name its brand “Big Gay Ice Cream”? The answer is rooted in the primary agenda of the gay-rights movement: to force society to recognize same-sex relationships as equal in moral standing to heterosexual ones. Yet there is no equivalence; same-sex relationships were, are, and always will be immoral. By certifying the company’s products, the OU effectively gives a hechsher not just to the food, but to the agenda behind the food.
Readers may be unaware how profoundly the LGBTQ agenda has infected our society. It is now common for someone who opposes same-sex marriage to be labeled a hater. Witness the vitriol hurled at Vice President Mike Pence because his wife teaches at a Christian school and because he opposes same-sex unions. (I ask: Was Barack Obama a “hater” until 2011, when he changed his mind and endorsed gay marriage?) School curricula today routinely instruct young children that there are several kinds of legitimate relationships. In these curricula, there is absolute equivalence between straight and gay sexual orientations! Perhaps worse, society is now expected to endorse the deviant notion that there are multiple sorts of gender identities and that one is free to choose his/her own.
If an ice cream named “Sabbath Desecrators” existed, would the OU jump to certify its products? I highly doubt it. Why, then, should Big Gay Ice Cream be any different? I again call upon the OU to withdraw its hechsher. At the same time, I wish Eshel success in navigating its difficult path in a halachically acceptable fashion.