"Religious views shouldn't come into play in a civil marriage"

Conversation with community leader Michael Weinstein

Hosted by Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak, JewsOnFirst.org, January 30, 2009

Michael Weinstein is president of the Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the nation’s largest provider of HIV/AIDS medical care. In our conversation he said: "In years past I thought that marriage itself was not that important and that civil unions took care of matters. But in this period of time that marriage was allowed in California, and having attended several ceremonies, and having known people who got married, it became apparent to me how it was very important and meaningful to couples."

Weinstein took issue with the popular perception of strong African American opposition to marriage equality. "There has been an important shift in the demographics, especially among young people," he said. "The exit polling on the Black community on the day of the election was not accurate. It turns out the numbers are much more favorable, and that points to the need to run a smarter campaign the next time."

The struggle, Weinstein said, is about civil rights. "It doesn't matter if you like gay and lesbian couples or approve of them. The majority in a democracy doesn't get to deprive the minority of rights... If you believe in democracy, if you believe in the separation of church and state, if you believe in civil marriage, therefore religious views shouldn't come into play in a civil marriage."

JewsOnFirst conversation with Michael Weinstein