The Gay Marriage Debate

Press Contact: Nina Jacobson
Office: (212) 678-8950

September 14, 2006, New York, NY

Few topics are as morally contentious and politically charged as changing the legal and cultural definitions of marriage to include same–sex unions.

Prominent advocates, critics, and scholars will come together for "The Gay Marriage Debate: A Conversation on the Implications of Same–Sex Marriage," a two–part series sponsored by the Louis Finkelstein Institute for Religious and Social Studies of The Jewish Theological Seminary. The first program, "Gay Marriage: An Overview of the Problems and Possibilities," will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, October 16. Maggie Gallagher, President of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, and Evan Wolfson, Executive Director of Freedom to Marry, will be the guest speakers.

The program will continue on Monday, October 30 with "Gay Marriage: Implications for Religious Liberty." Guest speakers will be Chai Feldblum, Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center; and Marc Stern, General Counsel of the American Jewish Congress.

Gallagher is a leading voice of the new marriage movement. As President of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, whose motto is "strengthening marriage for a new generation," she oversees its mission of research and public education on ways that law and public policy can strengthen marriage as a social institution. Gallagher is also a nationally syndicated columnist and the author of three books on marriage. She has testified as an expert witness on marriage before the U.S. Senate and in various state legislatures. Her writings on marriage have appeared in The New York Times, The Weekly Standard, and the Wall Street Journal, as well as scholarly journals. National Law Journal named Gallagher to the 2004 list of the most influential people in the same–sex marriage debate.

Named one of "the 100 most influential lawyers in America " by the National Law Journal in 2000, and one of the "Time 100," Time magazine's list of "the 100 most influential people in the world" in 2004, Wolfson is the founder of Freedom to Marry, the gay and non–gay partnership working to win marriage equality nationwide. Previously, Wolfson served as marriage project director for Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund, was co–counsel in the historic Hawaii marriage case, and served as Associate Counsel to Lawrence Walsh in the Iran/Contra investigation.

Professor Feldblum is Director of the Federal Legislation Clinic at Georgetown University Law School, where she teaches students how to combine law and politics in the drafting and negotiating of legislation and administrative regulations. As a lawyer for the ACLU AIDS Project from 1988–1990, she played a leading role in the Americans with Disabilities Act. She has since worked extensively in advancing gay, lesbian and transgender rights, particularly in the preparation of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act. Beginning in 2002, Professor Feldblum began focusing on workplace flexibility issues. She continues to engage in scholarly work and practical advocacy in the areas of disability rights, lesbian and gay rights, health and social welfare legislation, and workplace flexibility.

Assistant Executive Director of the American Jewish Congress and Co–Director of its Commission on Law and Social Action, Stern is one of the most respected lawyers in the United States on church–state and religious liberty issues. He is consulted widely by numerous Jewish and non–Jewish organizations interested in maintaining the separation of church and state, and is interviewed often by the broadcast and print media. He has taken the lead role in coalitions assembled by AJCongress which have produced guidelines utilized by the Clinton Administration to clarify contentious church–state issues in American society today. The author of numerous briefs, monographs, legislative testimony and articles on a variety of civil rights and civil liberties issues, Stern has been named one of the "Forward Fifty" most influential leaders of the American Jewish community.

Admission is free; reservations and photo ID are required. To register, or for further information, call (212) 280–6093 or email.

Editors/Reporters: Limited seats will be available for the media. Further information is available by contacting Sherry Kirschenbaum in the Department of Communications at (212) 678–8953 or email.

Founded in 1886 as a rabbinical school, The Jewish Theological Seminary today is the academic and spiritual center of Conservative Judaism worldwide, encompassing a world–class library and five schools. JTS trains tomorrow's religious, educational, academic and lay leaders for the Jewish community and beyond.

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