Giving a speech at your Bar Mitzvah is an important rite of passage for young Jewish men. Duncan McAlpine Sennett of Portland, OR used his opportunity to talk about what really matters to him - supporting gay marriage.
This mature and incredibly well-spoken 13-year-old gave his speech, or "D'var Torah," at Congregation Beth Israel in Portland in early November. While studying the Torah for his Bar Mitzvah, Duncan discovered just how much marriage has changed throughout history, inspiring him to focus his speech on same-sex marriage and equality
"While studying my Torah portion and comparing and contrasting marriage in the past and present, it would be irresponsible to exclude the topic of gay marriage," he says in a video uploaded by his congregation.
"I am a very, very strong supporter of equal rights and the freedom of men and women to marry whoever they love. People who disagree with me like to quote the Bible, and say that traditional marriage should be between one man and one woman."
He continues, "The definition of traditional marriage is like nothing what people think it is today. Jacob married two sisters who were his first cousins."
He goes on to reference all the milestones the gay rights movement made this year regarding same sex marriage. He also criticizes his home state of Oregon for not yet legalizing gay marriage."
"This subject is not only interesting, but is also very personal. My family is very close friends with many same sex couples," says Duncan, referencing two couples. "They have influenced me to go to Prop 8 rallies when I lived in California to support the freedom to marry, and they are wonderful people, wonderful parents, and wonderful couples."
He says that one of these couples, whom he calls "courageous men," has gotten married three times in three different states where same sex marriage is legal. "I hope they continue until they're married in all 50 states," he says.
"I am proud to be a part of congregation that is 100 percent in support of gay marriage," he says, adding that he'll continue to fight for gay marriage.
"My Torah portion was that the definition of traditional marriage has changed a lot since the days of the Torah, so why can't it change just a little bit more, so everyone can marry who they love?" he asks.
They say that you become a man in the eyes of the Jewish community once you have your Bar Mitzvah, but respecting other people and championing equality are what really make you a man.
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