Is Jason Collins the next Jackie Robinson? Jason Collins, for those who don’t know is the first active professional player to come out. This was the last thing I expected to hear from Rabbi Nasanayl Braun, from Congregation Brothers of Israel, during Saturday morning services. He continues with, if Jason Collins was an Orthodox Jew, which he isn’t, the Jewish perspective should be as follows: It is clear from our tradition that homosexuality is a sin. We can’t condone such conduct. However, nor can we condone the prejudice and discrimination of gay couples simply for who they are. In other words, we must separate the sin from the sinner. We don’t kill the sinner because we want to stop the sin. We pray the sinner will repent. Recognizing that for Jason Collins homosexuality may be biological rather than simply a preference, we can’t simply write him off. We can’t discriminate against him because of who he is, while not condoning his actions. It is a nuanced position and frankly a difficult one. Particularly, since later generations may ignore this distinction and make the mistake of endorsing Jason Collins actions, which are clearly prohibited by the Bible. My personal views on homosexuality have troubled me for many years. I have friends who are gay; however, my religion clearly condemns such conduct. So I thank Rabbi Braun, for addressing the issue head on. Applying this to immigration reform the question becomes, should the Senate’s Immigration Bill be amended to include a separate path to legal status for gays? The easy answer is simply to say that it doing so would lose the bill more votes that it would get from Republicans, and for that reason it should not be included. Another option to avoid the issue is to wait and see if the Supreme Court decides that The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage for federal law as only between man and woman, is unconstitutional. Without DOMA a United States Citizen can petition for his/her gay “spouse” and this becomes a non-issue. The hard choice is to say that irrespective of one’s individual views, people must be treated humanely. People shouldn’t be treated differently because of who they are, black, white, elderly, disabled, or gay. Whether we redefine “marriage” to include gay couples is a question for another day. However, we must recognize that those relationships exist and allow one “spouse” to petition for his/her partner. Whether by creating a separate path or simply redefining who can apply, we can’t condone prejudice. So thank you Rabbi Braun.

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