Chief Rabbi is wrong to denounce gay marriage: full letter

It is a matter of great regret that Lord Sacks has chosen to make a statement in his official capacity opposing the right of gay and lesbian men and women to marry. Even if same-sex marriage is contrary to Jewish law, it does not compromise the position of Orthodox Jews to let others marry as they wish. Lord Sacks has sought to influence how the generality of the population leads its life.

Further, and contrary to the submissions of the Beth Din, the change in the law will not force religious officers to officiate same-sex marriages against their wish. The law will apply only to secular ceremonies of marriage over which, by necessary definition, religious officers do not preside.

Jewish law may prohibit same-sex relations and among those Jews who consider themselves bound by Jewish law it operates as a restraint on how they may otherwise live their lives. But Jewish law can play no part in a modern secular society in restricting the lives of non-Jews - and Jews - who do not accept its restraints. The proper response to the consultation should have been: it is not our proper business to comment. Speaking when silence is required is no virtue.

Simone Abel
Lisa Appignanesi
Jeremy Brier
Professor Josh Cohen
Daniel Finkelstein
Stephen Fry
Eve Garrard
Jonny Geller
Professor Norman Geras
Caren Gestetner
Professor Simon Goldhill
Richard Hermer QC
Dr David Hirsh
Julia Hobsbawm
Anthony Julius
James Libson
Karen Mattison
Lord Parry Mitchell
The René Cassin Organisation
Dr Felix Posen
Dinah Rose QC
Clive Sheldon QC
Dina Shiloh
Katy Showman
David Toube
Paul Usiskin

Last updated: 11:42am, July 5 2012