HRC Launches Jewish Organization Equality Index

A primary tenet of Judaism is kavod habriyot, often translated into English as human dignity. Human Rights Campaign is currently in the process of assessing how closely Jewish organizations adhere to this principle when it comes to LGBT equality. The Jewish Organization Equality Index (JOEI) is modeled on similar index reports HRC has done within the corporate and healthcare arenas and will measure workplace inclusion policies, and inclusive programming and language. Jewish organizations, including social service agencies, Jewish Community Centers (JCCs), synagogues, and Jewish summer camps throughout the United States are encouraged to participate.

Many Jewish organizations are already open in their support for the LGBT community. In October of 2008, Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles announced that it officially opposed California’s Proposition 8, stating, “the decision of the Board to oppose Proposition 8 is rooted in our commitment to families at every level; we embrace that commitment without reservation and without valuing one family over another.” The Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties has an LGBT Alliance that “seeks to increase opportunities for Bay Area LGBT Jews to fully participate and celebrate in Jewish life.” Other JCCs have LGBT inclusion and outreach programs, and social service agencies have followed suit, often partnering with Jewish LGBT organizations. Keshet, a Jewish LGBT organization based in Jamaica Plain, Mass., also maintains a list of welcoming synagogues and congregations.

The Reform and Reconstructionist movements are fully inclusive of LGBT people in ritual and community life and have ordained rabbis without any prohibitions based on gender identity or sexual orientation since the 1980s. Both movements also support marriage equality. Although the Conservative movement still struggles with acceptance of LGBT members, both rabbinical schools in the United States accept LGBT students, and there is no explicit prohibition on marriage equality. Many individual Conservative congregations are welcoming of LGBT members.

GLAAD looks forward to the publication of the JOEI and encourages Jewish organizations throughout the United States to participate in the survey so it can be as representative of the American Jewish community as possible.