Jewish leaders across the Orthodox spectrum are rallying their forces for massive anti-Gay protests and riots to protect the ‘holiness’ of Jerusalem from the scheduled Gay Pride march. I think this is insane. I also think it is counterproductive. Here’s what I would have had them do instead:
1. Ten months ago, call the leaders of the Gay Pride march and invite them over for a dinner meeting. Explain that the Torah condemns one specific homosexual act. It does not single out homosexuality or homosexuals for special condemnation. Explain that we can’t change the Torah, no matter how much we might want to. Tell the truth – that we don’t have good answers for homosexuals and that we recognize the suffering that can cause. Try to nicely negotiate the parade out of Jerusalem.
2. If that failed, demonstrate, but not with the homophobic rhetoric and fundamentalist BS we’re now seeing. Set up tables along the parade route with large banners reading. "You’re Wrong, But You’re Still Our Brothers and Sisters," and similar slogans. Have the tables stocked with information on Torah and on it’s view of sexuality. Have other Jewish education materials there as well.
3. Tell the media that homosexuals are trapped between their sexual desires – whatever their origin – and the Torah. Note that this is sad and an unbelievably difficult test for them. Say that you disagree with the march and with any promotion of homosexuality but that you feel for these people and wish you could help them. Stress that they are still Jews and that God loves them just like he loves all Jews.
This approach might truly help Jewish Gays and it would certainly have been a PR victory for Orthodoxy. But bigots don’t care about helping those they hate or about the bad PR their hatred brings. If the Orthodox world would lose its homophobia and deal with this issue rationally, it could gain much. But it will not do so, because hatred of the Other is Orthodoxy’s lifeblood.