The Power of Being Fully Visible

By JCRC CEO Jeremy Burton

On Tuesday I had the incredible honor of being invited to the White House for the ceremony as President Biden signed the Respect for Marriage Act into law. It was an awesome, celebratory day and I was proud to be there, on behalf of JCRC and as a member of the LGBTQ community.  

As I stood there bearing witness, fully visible in my Jewish and LGBTQ wholeness, wearing my rainbow kippah, I also stood there conscious of all the shoulders I was standing on.  

I was standing on the shoulders of everyone at JCRC – the professionals, volunteers and members – who, during the leadership of my predecessor Nancy Kaufman, led us to be the first JCRC in the nation to endorse marriage equality back in 2004. I was standing on the shoulders of the Goodridge families (some of whom were present and spoke) whose struggles led to Massachusetts being first in the nation to legalize marriage equality. I was standing on the shoulders of my younger self, a closeted young professional working on the Clinton-Gore re-election campaign in 1996 and having to engage in difficult conversations on behalf of a president who had just enacted DOMA.   

And I was standing with my dear friend and partner in our work in Boston, the Rev. Laura Everett, executive director of the Mass Council of Churches, who joined me on this trip and in this experience. I invite you to read our shared reflections in Religion News Service today. 

I am proud to serve and represent this JCRC and this community which has led with moral clarity in support of LGBTQ rights while also holding true to principles of commitment to the protection of religious liberty. I am grateful for the opportunities that I have been given through this work, including being present on this historic day. And, in a year when so much of our attention has been given to strife and setbacks, it is wonderful to share with you – in my final note before the end-year break - a sense of unmitigated joy for what is possible and the progress that is being made in our nation. 

Shabbat Shalom and Happy New Year,

Jeremy 

p.s. This week I had the additional opportunity, along with some good colleagues, to share with the Huffington Post some thoughts on how to be an ally to the Jewish community amidst rising antisemitism. I hope that you’ll read the article and share it with your networks.