The DOMA Ruling: Guessing What it Means

Doma is dead

 

I could try to sugar coat today’s ruling. I could also try to minimize what I think its impact will be. However, that would not be honest. I can only write what I think. Anything else would be a lie. 

We are, as Catholics, going to have to unravel today’s Supreme Court ruling a bit and absorb it. Only after we do that can we “Keep Calm and Catholic On” as some people advise.

First, we need to know what we are keeping calm about and what we are Catholicing on in the face of. Here, for what it’s worth, is my first take. I reserve the right to alter this as time goes on and I learn more. For now:

I think today’s Supreme Court ruling that DOMA is unconstitutional on the basis of equal protection is a watershed. 

It tips the table over and opens the way to reorganize our society along destructive lines. While today’s ruling does not legalize gay marriage by fiat, it creates a pry-bar that will open the doorway to creating a de facto legalization in practice. 

Many of the impacts of today’s ruling are going to come pretty fast. Federal institutions will change how they deal with marriage almost over night. The pressure for states to comply will also begin almost immediately.

There are far-reaching implications to federal law that tunnel their way into the corners of almost every state activity. Given that the proponents of these changes are well-funded, supported absolutely by the media and now by federal law, I believe that things are going to get increasingly dicey for anyone who wants to take a stand for traditional marriage. 

We already have a number of examples, many of which I have written about extensively on this blog, of how the “right” to gay marriage quickly becomes a “right” to infringe on other’s freedoms. This ruling, with its broad-ranging basis in equal protection, will open the way to legal arguments favoring even more forceful infringements of our religious liberties. 

Politically, I believe that this ruling and the movement behind it are going to create another fracture in the body politic. I will be surprised if we do not see the two political parties line up along these fault lines. Those of us who go to the polls and vote will be pushed, as we have been with abortion, to vote according to these social issues rather than other things such as the continuous cycle of wars, and the growing threat of economic bankruptcy of our nation. 

If I’m wrong, and nothing changes, I’ll be only too happy — ecstatic, in fact — to say so. 

I am not saying these things from a place of despair. I do not feel anything like despair. What I feel is a determination to stand for my Church and for Jesus, come what may. There is nothing that is final in this life except death itself, and even that is only final in this life. We can heal our culture, but we have to begin by healing ourselves. 

This is our time, and these are our challenges. 

There are a few things I’m going to ask you to do:

1. Face facts. This is our situation. So be it. 

2. Pray for those who oppose us. If you do this, it will not only help them, but it will take the anger out of you and let you think clearly. It will also give you the strength and determination Christians are going to need. 

3. Give yourself time to be upset. Take a few days and feel it through. Then, get over it and get back into the battle. Do not fight yesterday’s war.

4. Focus on your own family first. In particular, how are you going to protect your children from the propaganda in our culture? 

Here is a brief analysis from the Maddowblog on MSNBC. I chose them because, while all of the media have become gay marriage advocates, MSNBC seems to be speaking almost directly for the leadership in this movement. As such, they give us a good look at what these activists are thinking and planning. 

It will take some time to digest the significance of the Supreme Court’s ruling striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, but as MSNBC’s Adam Serwer noted

 , the “likely consequences for same-sex couples who until now have been denied legal recognition by the federal government are difficult to overstate.”

Families headed by married same-sex couples will now be recognized by the federal government as families. Servicemembers fighting for their country in far off lands will not have to worry about their spouses being denied benefits. The same-sex spouses of Americans who are not U.S. citizens will not be denied green cards on the basis that their marriages don’t count.

But there was something that NBC News’ Pete Williams said this morning that’s also worth keeping in mind. For those who can’t watch clips online:

“The interesting thing here is that the court has said that DOMA is unconstitutional as a matter of equal protection — meaning that it’s discriminatory. Now, the importance of that is, if the Supreme Court had struck it down on a narrower basis — by saying for example that the federal government doesn’t have the power to determine what a marriage is, that’s a matter for the states — that would have been a very narrow ruling.

“This is a very broad ruling. If the Supreme Court is saying here that the federal government can’t make distinctions between same-sex and opposite-sex couples in terms of what marriages the federal government will recognize, then this is an opinion that can be used by proponents of same-sex marriage to attack laws in other states.”

It can and will be used exactly that way, and for marriage-equality supporters, it suggests the DOMA ruling in U.S. v. Windsor is not only a breakthrough victory today, but it will continue to offer opportunities for further victories fairly soon.

 For a different take on the ruling, check out Keep Calm and Catholic On by Joanne McPortland. 


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