When Gerald Skolnik, the president of a group of 1,600 Conservative rabbis, was asked to officiate at a gay wedding last year, he didn’t know where to start. “I was flying by the seat of my pants,” he said. Should the wedding look like a heterosexual ceremony, or something else entirely?
Now he has guidelines to turn to. After years of deliberation, the Conservative Rabbinical Assembly has provided guidance to rabbis for performing same-sex marriages.
On May 31, the assembly’s Committee on Jewish Law and Standards approved templates, culminating a six-year-long process that began in 2006 when Conservative leaders first officially sanctioned gay relationships. Created by Rabbis Daniel Nevins, Avram Reisner and Elliot Dorff, the ritual guidelines detail two types of gay weddings, as well as gay divorce. “Both versions are egalitarian,” said Nevins. “They differ mostly in style—one hews closely to the traditional wedding ceremony while the other departs from it.”
The guidelines passed on a vote of 13 to 0 in the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, with one rabbi abstaining.