My Remarks from Today’s Press Conference on Question 6

Rabbi Daniel Cotzin Burg Press Statement
October 18, 2012
My name is Rabbi Daniel Burg. I have the privilege to serve Beth Am Synagogue in the great city of Baltimore, Maryland.
As a Rabbi and member of the Jewish faith, I am deeply concerned about religious freedoms – no clergy member or citizen ought to be forced to do something that contradicts his or her faith.  My people, the Jewish people, searched for centuries, in distant lands across the world, looking for a country to call home. 
My grandfather fled Nazi Germany in the 1930’s and made his way to America.  My grandparents and great-grandparents settled here because here they could practice their faith freely and openly, without shame, without judgment or fear.  I’m proud to live in America and Maryland where people of different beliefs and practices are guaranteed equal protection under the law.  And voting FOR Question 6 only underlines those protections! 
First, it ensures that each of us, including gays and lesbians, can choose their own path to love and happiness.  Same-sex couples, just like straight couples, will be able to go to the city or county clerk, apply for a license and get married. 
And second, my colleagues, religious leaders from various faith traditions, will continue to follow their own conscience, and none will be forced to violate his or her convictions.
For my part, I’m heartened by the many same-sex couples who wish to marry.  Marriage is good – for couples, for families and for society.  Marriage is a stabilizing force.  It’s good for kids to have loving parents, working together and helping them grow into productive, responsible adults.  Marriage Equality is about exactly that: the right for each citizen of this state to marry the person they love.
Some say this is about “traditional” marriage.  We can disagree about what’s traditional – we Jews have been arguing about “tradition” for 4,000 years!  This is about freedom, fairness and the right to self-determination. 
Same-sex couples want what straight couples want.  They want what my wife and I had – an official moment to express their love and have their state validate and honor that commitment.  They wish to build what my wife and I have built – a family. They ask for nothing except the blessing of good neighbors, loved ones and co-workers who wish them well.  They don’t want to change society.  They want to change their Facebook status or check the box that says “married.”
Look, we all have a right to disagree. But being an American, I believe, is about making more room for others, not less, even if it makes us a little uncomfortable.  I thank God every day that I was able to find, court and marry my soul mate.  And my faith tells me I ought to be able to rejoice in that same happiness for others! 
So join me in voting FOR Question 6.  Stand on the right side of history, and help me prove that the land my grandfather came to 75 years ago will always be a place of fairness, tolerance and justice for all.  

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