In testimony before the New York City Council General Welfare Committee on March 1, Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, Agudath Israel of America’s executive vice president for government and public affairs, urged the rejection of a proposed law extending to domestic partners all the benefits the city offers spouses.
According to the Agudath Israel representative, the legislative proposal, Intro. 501, would elevate the status of “domestic partnership” into the legal equivalent of marriage for purposes of City law. “That would spell the end,” he asserts, “of marriage as a singularly favored status in New York.”
Rabbi Zwiebel reiterated his organization’s longstanding opposition to all legal recognition of relationships the Torah calls immoral, asserting that the law “ought not place its imprimatur of social legitimacy upon relationships that so many citizens find objectionable on religious, moral and historical grounds.” Indeed, even before the hearing, Rabbi Zwiebel noted how the legislation’s language included the word “spousal” in reference to domestic partners, a lapse that was subsequently corrected.
But the Agudath Israel leader went on to point out an additional troublesome aspect of the bill at issue: the impact is would have on traditional couples living together without sanction of marriage, as mere “domestic partners.”
“A man and a woman,” Rabbi Zwiebel asserted, “who live together, and who are capable of formalizing their relationship through marriage yet consciously choose not to, certainly deserve no reward for having made that conscious choice.”
By allowing domestic partners the very same benefits and privileges as spouses, he asserted, “this law would remove an important incentive that might otherwise impel a couple to marry.
“For the sake of the couple’s children, if nothing else, marriage should be encouraged by the law, not discouraged.”