Video: 13-year-old calls for marriage equality at his Bar Mitzvah

13-year-old Duncan McAlpine Sennett used the bible to argue for marriage equality. It’s pretty simple: “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 everybody can marry who they love?” Fabulous question. 

For his Bar Mitzvah, the Jewish coming of age ritual, Duncan decided to look at Genesis to demonstrate how our idea of traditional marriage has, indeed, evolved since the time of the bible. Duncan delivered his speech at the November 9th Bar Mitzvah at Congregation Beth Israel, in Portland, where a coalition is pushing to get marriage equality on the ballot in 2014.

“Shabbot shalom. In my Torah portion… Jacob works for seven years to earn the right to marry Laban’s daughter, his love Rachel. Before marrying Rachel, Jacob is first tricked into marrying her older sister Leah. I find my parsha interesting because it is a window into what was life was like back in the days of the Torah.

Towleroad transcribed the speech:

“Back then, this seemed to have a perfect definition of what traditional marriage meant for their time, when as time passes we have a completely different definition today. So the question is: how has the definition of traditional marriage changed since the days of the Torah? Just looking at my Torah portion as a proof text, I think it has changed a lot.

“Leah and Rachel had absolutely no say in marrying Jacob — it was like a business deal between Jacob and Laban. Today in the United States, marriage is very different. No longer do the fathers arrange marriages (NOTE: That’s not entirely true, but we’ll let it slide) and women can marry whomever they want.

Read the rest here.


Born and raised on the mean streets of New York City’s Upper West Side, Katie Halper is a comic, writer, blogger, satirist and filmmaker based in New York. Katie graduated from The Dalton School (where she teaches history) and Wesleyan University (where she learned that labels are for jars.) A director of Living Liberally and co-founder/performer in Laughing Liberally, Katie has performed at Town Hall, Symphony Space, The Culture Project, D.C. Comedy Festival, all five Netroots Nations, and The Nation Magazine Cruise, where she made Howard Dean laugh! and has appeared with Lizz Winstead, Markos Moulitsas, The Yes Men, Cynthia Nixon and Jim Hightower. Her writing and videos have appeared in The New York Times, Comedy Central, The Nation Magazine, Gawker, Nerve, Jezebel, the Huffington Post, Alternet and Katie has been featured in/on NY Magazine, LA Times, In These Times, Gawker,Jezebel, MSNBC, Air America, GritTV, the Alan Colmes Show, Sirius radio (which hung up on her once) and the National Review, which called Katie “cute and some what brainy.” Katie co-produced Tim Robbins’s film Embedded, (Venice Film Festival, Sundance Channel); Estela Bravo’s Free to Fly (Havana Film Festival, LA Latino Film Festival); was outreach director for The Take, Naomi Klein/Avi Lewis documentary about Argentine workers (Toronto & Venice Film Festivals, Film Forum); co-directed New Yorkers Remember the Spanish Civil War, a video for Museum of the City of NY exhibit, and wrote/directed viral satiric videos including Jews/ Women/ Gays for McCain.

Katie is a writer, comedian, filmmaker, and New Yorker.

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