DOMA Ruling: What It Does, What It Doesn’t Do

It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.  But is the fight to protect the institution of marriage over?

By a 5-4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court today struck down a key provision of the Defense Of Marriage Act.  The ruling now guarantees federal recognition, including tax protections, for lesbian and homosexual couples who have married in one of the 13 states which currently recognize same-sex marriage.  In its decision, the Supreme Court ruled that DOMA violated the equal protection clause of the Constitution, by denying some citizens the rights and privileges accorded to married couples.

So the Supreme Court recognized marriages into which same-sex partners had entered in states which have already legalized same-sex marriage.

But the Court did not establish the legality of same-sex marriage in all states of the U.S.  It left the matter of legality to be decided at the state level.

The Court also refused to intervene in a lower court’s decision on California’s Proposition 8, ruling that the citizen group that sponsored Prop 8 did not have standing to defend the constitutional amendment which had been passed by a vote of the people.  The Supremes, in allowing the lower court decision by  one homosexual judge to stand, have denied voters in the state of California the right to define marriage in their state constitution as “a union between one man and one woman”—thus paving the way for legal same-sex marriages to resume in the state.

The immediate effect of the combined rulings is that same-sex couples who have been married in states permitting this will be immediately eligible for federal benefits.  Some 1,000 laws will be applied to the couples, whose marriages will now be recognized by the federal government.

The pivotal rulings are symbolic victories for advocates of same-sex marriage, and crushing defeats for conservatives.

But the two rulings are likely to have wide-reaching effects which extend beyond an individual married couple’s IRS filing.  Already there have been signs that individuals’ and churches’ religious freedom and freedom of association protections are at risk.  You’ve no doubt read of cases in which landlords and hoteliers are not permitted to deny use of their property to married couples of the same sex.  Wedding planners, musicians and florists may not refuse service to same-sex couples, even though their persornal conviction is that such marriages are against God’s law.

It’s reasonable to assume that public education will be affected, and schools’ sex ed curricula will regard same-sex relationships and marriage as simply another option among several options.  This viewpoint will be widely promulgated, even when it is in sharp disagreement with the viewpoint of the parents.

What will not change as a result of today’s Supreme Court decisions is this:  The Catholic Church will continue to regard homosexuality as disordered, and to oppose any effort to legalize same-sex marriage.

And this will not change:  God is in control.

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The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops was quick to release a statement, calling today’s controversial rulings “a tragic day for marriage and for our nation.”

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, chair of the U.S. bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, released the following statement on behalf of the USCCB:

“Today is a tragic day for marriage and our nation. The Supreme Court has dealt a profound injustice to the American people by striking down in part the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The Court got it wrong. The federal government ought to respect the truth that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, even where states fail to do so. The preservation of liberty and justice requires that all laws, federal and state, respect the truth, including the truth about marriage. It is also unfortunate that the Court did not take the opportunity to uphold California’s Proposition 8 but instead decided not to rule on the matter. The common good of all, especially our children, depends upon a society that strives to uphold the truth of marriage. Now is the time to redouble our efforts in witness to this truth. These decisions are part of a public debate of great consequence. The future of marriage and the well-being of our society hang in the balance.

“Marriage is the only institution that brings together a man and a woman for life, providing any child who comes from their union with the secure foundation of a mother and a father.

“Our culture has taken for granted for far too long what human nature, experience, common sense, and God’s wise design all confirm: the difference between a man and a woman matters, and the difference between a mom and a dad matters. While the culture has failed in many ways to be marriage-strengthening, this is no reason to give up. Now is the time to strengthen marriage, not redefine it.

“When Jesus taught about the meaning of marriage – the lifelong, exclusive union of husband and wife – he pointed back to “the beginning” of God’s creation of the human person as male and female (see Matthew 19). In the face of the customs and laws of his time, Jesus taught an unpopular truth that everyone could understand. The truth of marriage endures, and we will continue to boldly proclaim it with confidence and charity.

“Now that the Supreme Court has issued its decisions, with renewed purpose we call upon all of our leaders and the people of this good nation to stand steadfastly together in promoting and defending the unique meaning of marriage: one man, one woman, for life. We also ask for prayers as the Court’s decisions are reviewed and their implications further clarified.”

  • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

    All the idiots who trusted the Republican party – happy now? This is the result of Republican presidents’ choices for SCOTUS.

    • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

      Come on Fabio. Four of five Republican appointees voted the right way. All four of the Dem appointees voted the wrong way. Nothing is perfect, but if it had been a Democrat who would have appointed Kennedy’s seat, do you think the outcome would have been different. Hey i share your frustration, but you can’t blame the republicans on this. Look who’s driving the same sex marriage at the state levels. It’s overwhelming Democrats.

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    It’s a really sad day. The fight is not over, but I wonder how many states we can prevent from arriving at this monstrosity? Probably not many.

  • Stuart

    I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. I wonder how long it will be before a homosexual couple in a state where homosexual “marriage” is legal approaches a religious institution (opposed to their union) and asks to be “married” in the church. If said church denies them, I’m sure we’ll have bigotry lawsuits.

    • Brian Westley

      Nope. You’ll notice divorced people haven’t been suing catholic churches to get married, and gays won’t either. They know the first amendment wouldn’t allow it, why don’t you know this?

      • oregon catholic

        Divorced isn’t a “special” protected class so the notion of a suit is silly.

        Gays won’t get anywhere with Catholic Churches because of how strictly managed our sacraments are – they would never qualify. But they will almost certainly be approaching churches which have allowed non-members to use their facilities, citing public use accomodation. Renting facilities for weddings is not uncommon among non-denominational Christian churches who allow other non-affilitated Christians to use their facilities.

        Why don’t you know this?

        • heavenly1

          You know about the Vermont couple who were forced to pay large fines for refusing to host a lesbian wedding? It’s already here, Oregon. http://therightscoop.com/vermont-catholic-owned-inn-forced-to-pay-large-fines-for-refusing-lesbian-wedding-reception/

        • heavenly1
          • oregon catholic

            Yes the attacks on business has been around awhile. I think we will see more lawsuits against churches coming. Not because the gays can’t find willing churches but because some of them have a hatred that drives them to hurt those that offend them, even if it means ruining their own ceremony in the process..

            We have a suit pending in Oregon against a baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple. The really ironic thing is that ssm doesn’t exist in Oregon. So he is basically being sued for not providing a cake for an event that has no legal standing anyway. I guess he should have just called it a fantasy cake and made it anyway. And true to form, the activists plotted together to libel him and ruin his business by overrunning every customer feedback forum they could find to give him bad reviews.

            If I were a wedding business owner I would just be very careful to get the full identities of the couple first and then be otherwise booked or on vacation if it was for a gay wedding. People will have to get very careful and smarter at protecting themselves.

        • Brian Westley

          You’re comparing apples and oranges. The original commenter was talking about being married in the church. But if a church owns property that they rent out, they have to follow the same public accommodations laws as everyone else. You don’t seem to know the difference.

          • oregon catholic

            I guess I should have been clearer. Substitute the word church sanctuary for facility. Some churches have rented or allowed non-members to use their santuary for weddings. They are now at risk of having to accomodate gay couples unless they stop the practice all together. The income may be important to keeping the doors open and so if forced to stop, the church will be harmed by the activists – but then that’s the point for some.

          • Brian Westley

            If they rent out to the general public, they have to follow the same public accommodations laws as anyone else. No “special rights”.

            Churches that refused to recognize mixed-race marriages had the same problem after Loving v. Virginia.

            Oh, and speaking of harm, that’s brought up in the DOMA opinion:

            “The Constitution’s guarantee of equality “must at the very least mean that a bare congressional desire to harm a politically unpopular group cannot” justify disparate treatment of that group.”

  • Margarita

    The govt is purposefully twisting things & for some reason our US Bishops are not saying what needs most to be said, but rather they are perpetuating the confusion being put forth by current state & federal govts. The Civil Govt has no role in marriage whatsoever – no licensing of it, no banning it, no rewarding it with incentives. All of these actions are unconstitutional, including direct federal taxation of individuals & couples at all. These unconstitutional encroachments are precisely what have led us to where we are today, and where we are headed tomorrow with state & fed govt intruding into private businesses & churches denying protection of freedom of religion and/or conscience. We have been & are being played. What we should have been demanding for decades is that both state & fed govts get out of marriage all together & cease unconstitutional taxation. It is the role of families, pastors, priests & rabbis to protect the sanctity of marriage, not the civil govt., and we in America did not accept this encroachment until the American Eugenic Society made it an issue of national security to prevent biracial marriages after the Civil War and marriages between retarded/disabled/poor people. Where there is no unwilling party, there is no victim; where there is no victim, there is no crime; where there is no crime/potential crime, there is no role for civil govt. When we allow civil govt to overstep the boundaries of its duties, it is stepping into the roles & authority of the family, individual & churches & will eventually stomp on them.


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