Prop. 22 is about scapegoating, not about gay marriage

Let's not be confused. Proposition 22 has very little to do with gay marriages. The 14-word initiative simply states what is current law: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."

If the proposition restates current law, why do we need it? Why would anyone go to the expense and aggravation of trying to pass something that has absolutely no effect on anything?

Because it does have an effect, a devastating effect. And that is what the authors intended all along.

Let's start first, however, with Judaism and Jewish law. After all, the Torah does have a clear prohibition on homosexuality, considered to'evah, threatening or repulsive to nature. For many of us, the Torah, while the word of God, is viewed as an interpretation by humans in its translation. We need to look at when these strictures were written, for at the time we were fighting for our very survival. Many believe it was human interpretation that considered to'evah anything that did not increase procreation and population.

On the other hand, we also find the concept of betselem Elohim, that we are all created in God's image, and that compassion and respect for all of God's creations is demanded.

In this debate, the fact that 10 percent of our Jewish community is gay is secondary in importance to how individuals are treated. Throughout our history, Jews have been scapegoated because we were different and those in the majority did not understand who we were. We were threatening. Unfortunately, for far too many, homosexuality is still threatening. As Jews we have a responsibility to speak out for those who have become the latest scapegoat. The fact that many in our own community have been targeted adds additional emotion and urgency.

To adequately understand the Knight Initiative, voters need to understand the ramifications of its passage. Please be clear, the authors and primary endorsers of this initiative will use it as the legal framework to challenge all existing advances made for same-sex couples.

In Pennsylvania, Idaho, Florida, Illinois, Virginia and Washington, where this initiative has passed, challenges have been made to all existing domestic partnership laws, including benefits and rights, adoptions, hospital visitation and decision-making, bereavement and sick leave, inheritance and immigration status, to name a few.

The initiative also flies in the face of the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which says that under U.S. law, states must respect the laws of other states. The proposition would call this law into question and have untold additional consequences.

Finally, we need to understand that in this debate, many people of good will totally support gay rights and domestic partnership benefits, but are not yet comfortable with the idea of gay marriage. They are not the enemy in this debate. They are individuals caught up in the continuum of shifting social policy in an area that does not touch their daily lives.

The backers of the initiative are trying to frame the debate by focusing solely on gay marriage, thus hiding its true intent. We can't allow them to do this, for if we do, we all lose.

On March 7, let us remember the commandments of our tradition, "Tzedek, tzedek, tirdof" ("Justice, justice, shalt thou pursue"), that we are all created in God's image and that the time to demand compassion and respect for all of God's creations is now. When you go to the polls on March 7, vote no on Proposition 22.