The Agudah on the status of “domestic partnership”


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.”


  1. Why would the Agudah have any issues with this?
    A) Do we need to gain enemies from the alternative lifestyle community?
    B) Some Yidden do not want to legally get married (for one reason or another) the only thing that matters is halacha.

  2. Where does the Torah say that non-Jews living in committed relationships are immoral? The Torah doesn’t specify civil marriages; I’d venture to say that for non-Jews the Torah would view a long-term committed relationship as ishus. (I vaguely remember proofs to this, but can’t bring them to mind now.)

  3. I think involving ourselves in politics, can be a good thing, but not in these politics.

    How does this testimony help Agudah, or the frum comminuty in general?

    Shouldn’t Agudah spend time and money on things that can actually make a differance?

  4. According to the Rambam, nisuim (marriage) for a non-Jew is determined by taking a woman into his home, and divorce is determined by sending her out of his home.
    I understand this to mean that “domestic partners” that are non-Jewish are halachically married and she is an Eishes Ish.
    For a Jew, a legal marriage isn’t a halachic marriage anyway, so I’m not really sure how this issue should make any difference to us frum Jews.

  5. I question the Agudah and their political agenda. Why would they get involved in this if they are constantly urging people to register to vote with the Democratic party? This will only make Anti-Semites from an already Anti-Semitic leaning bunch. If they encouraged people to register Republican, then the Agudah would get more support. Go figure.

  6. For all of you who question why Agudas Yisroel is involving itself in this issue? These “domestic partners” will be living next door to us very soon…then you shall see why this issue affects the frum community. R’L that these people live amongst our families…Bravo to the Aguda!!

  7. Let me preface that I am not a big ‘Agudist”, but we have to congratulate what they are doing. The biggest issue that we have to be worried about non-discrimination in housing. If “alternative lifestyle” and domestic arrangements are legal, then we can’t discriminate legally if they want to rent an apartment.

    Try explaining all this to your kids.

  8. gemorakop Says:

    Try explaining all this to your kids.

    You have a point, however, we do teach 10-12 y/o boys parshiyos metzora, acharei mos and kedoshim, without having to say inapropriate things, tactfully, this can be done too.

  9. A23:
    You say :Do we need to gain enemies from the alternative lifestyle community?” I say Oihavay Heshem Sin’i ru. These abominations are our enemies.
    Azoi Zug Eech

  10. once again, people are questioning the acts of agudah, which no doubt has its agenda dictated by gedolim – how many times do we need to see people questioning daas torah, frankly its the only problem i have with yw – bloggers can make jokes, comments about issues, inform us, educate etc. but its poison to be anti our gedolim or defend those who comment against them.