Among religious groups in the US, Jews are among the biggest backers of same-sex marriage, according to data gathered by the Public Religion Research Institute. Jews polled at 77% in support, behind only Buddhists (who polled at 84%).
Although there is range of opinion in the Jewish community on this issue (like every other), thirteen Jewish groups — representing Reform, Reconstructionist and Conservative streams of Judaism — were among those that joined the brief filed by the ADL in Obergefell v. Hodges. It was the decision on this case, announced by the Supreme Court last week, which legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.
To mark that decision, I'm dedicating this post to a few favorite Jewish LGBT books. These suggestions come from my own reading, conversations with friends, and recommendations from Tablet Magazine and the Jewish Book Council.
A great place to start is with Joel Derfner's Lawfully Wedded Husband: How My Gay Marriage Will Save the American Family. Written in 2013, it begins with Derfner's boyfriend proposing at a time when there was nowhere in the US where it was legal for them to wed. When that changes, they confront questions ranging from the wording of their ketubahto the very definition of what constitutes an American family. LGBT Weekly called it a "thoughtful look at marriage, wrapped in wry humor."
For those fascinated by the legal cases that changed US law on same-sex marriage, there's Then Comes Marriage, written by renowned litigator Roberta Kaplan and published earlier this year. In it, Kaplan takes readers behind the scenes of United States v. Windsor, the case that defeated the Defense of Marriage Act. This is a gripping account of a significant moment in US history.
Joy Ladin's 2012 powerful memoir Through the Door of Life was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award. Ladin is an openly transgender professor who holds the David and Ruth Guttesman Chair in English at Yeshiva University's Stern College for Women. About her book, The Huffington Post said. "On the face of it, [this] is the story of how Jay Ladin transitioned into living as Joy Ladin. But it's Ladin's relationship with Judaism that anchors this book and makes it stand out."
On the fiction shelf, All I Love and Know is a new novel by Judith Frank, winner of the Lambda Literary Award. Called "brilliant" by the Boston Globe, it is an emotional family drama about a gay Jewish couple who become guardians to two children whose parents were killed in the bombing of a Tel Aviv café. The story takes place in Jerusalem and Northampton, MA, and it tackles tensions in politics, parenting, and finding one's place in a new breed of family.
Marjorie Ingall, a columnist for Tablet magazine who often writes about families, recommends Wide Awake by David Levithan. I haven't read it but her description certainly makes me want to. She calls it "a gay young-adult love story set against the election of the first gay Jewish president. It's funny, fierce, wishful, and sweet." (For a beautiful article about the how the Supreme Court ruling touched Ingall's own family, see A Love Supreme.)