Jews should vote no on Knight

"Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."

Those words comprise the entire text of state Sen. Pete Knight's (R-Palmdale) "Limits on Marriage Initiative."

The support of same-sex marriage is not our concern here. Rather, our fear is that this ill-conceived initiative will open the floodgates to discrimination against gays and lesbians.

That is intolerable to us as Jews. At issue are the rights of many to perform such simple and life-affirming acts as visiting a loved one in the hospital, adopting a child or securing health-care benefits for a companion.

Why should Jews care?

Well, for one thing, some 10 percent of our own community is gay or lesbian, according to the American Jewish Congress.

For another, we have a historic commitment to human and civil rights. We admire the Orthodox rabbi who does not support same-sex marriage yet believes speaking out against this initiative is a mitzvah — and a must.

Before Californians go to the polls March 7, we suggest a look at Knight's record — and events that have followed the passage of similar legislation elsewhere:

*In Florida, Illinois, Virginia and Washington, ultra-right groups have used such legislation to challenge domestic partner benefits and adoption rights for same-sex partners.

*In Idaho, a judge has blocked a woman from adopting her partner's child.

*A North Carolina court invalidated a lesbian couple's adoption.

Recently, Knight complained of "minority groups all over the country that are screaming and demanding, and we as a people are giving in…I don't think we can continue to do that and maintain these United States."

By that logic, Jews would still be barred from attending medical school, joining civic groups and moving to many communities.

Like the S.F.-based Jewish Community Relations Council, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and Jewish leaders of all denominations, we say "no" to Proposition 22.