Whenever President Bush and the religious right are joined in conversation, the discussion is centered around conservative Christians. But what about the aptly populated and fiscally dominating base of Jewish voters?
While Jews in New York may make Torah readers look like the nation’s most liberal party, Jewish people as a whole don’t necessarily stray too far from the Christian right when it comes to the issues for which coffee shop conversation exists.
Sure, Jews may favor Democrats 3-to-1 overall, but have you ever asked your Aunt Zelda whether she’d be okay with her daughter aborting her future granddaughter? And do you think your mother kept your sexuality a secret from Grandpa Mordechai his whole life by accident?
When it comes to the controversial issues, we’ve experienced first-hand the conservative-liberal split within the Jewish community. So how is the White House going to fare with the Jewish vote given President Bush’s backing of the gay marriage amendment?
However, Jewish Republicans, who have been trying to lure Jews away from their solid 3-to-1 support for Democrats, might have been dealt a blow, at least according to the amendmentâ€™s opponents.
â€œItâ€™s unclear to me how the Republican Party will gain ground in the Jewish community by bringing forth a centerpiece of the religious rightâ€™s agenda,â€ said Mark Pelavin, associate director of the Reform movementâ€™s Religious Action Center. â€œFor a large section of the Jewish community, this is an issue of fundamental rights and they will be watching closely to see how their senators vote.â€
The Reform and Reconstructionist movements oppose the amendment. A committee of the Conservative movementâ€™s congregational arm is considering it this week, and Orthodox groups support it.
The most recent polling on the issue, by Gallup, found 50 percent of Americans in favor of the amendment and 47 percent opposed. A 2004 American Jewish Committee survey of American Jews found 24 percent in favor and 74 percent opposed.
While the data suggests overwhelming opposition to the amendment from Jews, we’d love to hear from those of you in the audience with a “religious enough” background where you or your families will take your faith’s guidelines into consideration when considering supporting an bill like this.
(Image adapted from David Shneer and Caryn Aviv’s Queer Jews.)