The DOMA Ruling: Guessing What it Means

The DOMA Ruling: Guessing What it Means June 26, 2013

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.


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45 responses to “The DOMA Ruling: Guessing What it Means”

  1. I could not be more pleased by the decision today. It is a stride towards equality & full citizenship for all our brothers and sisters. The only thing that made me happier than the decision itself was the fact that two of the Justices that voted with the majority opinion were Catholics. Thank you justices Kennedy and Sotomeyor.

  2. I think your worst fears are correct. This will divide society. And even worse, it will divide religious people. I’m not sure how the Catholic Church will handle this but I think there will be fractures.

  3. However, reading the last paragraph, we know we live in a country that cannot force churches to do things against their will, nor would we want to live in such a country. Notice also this piece was written by a gay Christian, whom probably shares the same core beliefs as you. I sincerely hope my church will recognize the truth I have seen in my life with gay friends and family, but I probably wn’t live to see it.

  4. “I believe that things are going to get increasingly dicey for anyone who wants to take a stand for traditional marriage.”

    I will take a stand for traditional marriage. I think it should be allowed.

  5. “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.”

    Except that many Republicans have decided to give up on marriage/abortion issues. (Another reason to ignore them.) Long past time for a third party.

  6. Fabio,

    You are really, really insulting gays. There is no one to compare, in this case, to Hitler, Al Capone, the Devil, whomever.

  7. Bill, I don’t think Fabio was talking about gays. He was saying that Al Capone and Hitler were poor or phoney Catholics.

  8. Belgium is nominally 3/4 Catholic and has had gay marriage since 2003. Spain since 2005. Not to mention 13 other countries, including Portugal a few years ago. Have they fractured politically over this issue? Have there been any negative consequences?

  9. Are you kidding me? Of course you want to live in a country where all Churches worship at the foot of St. Obama and his fabulously dressed retinue of overlords that are the oh-so-sainted gays that are *so much better* than any of your straight friends and family.

  10. I’m just waiting for the “Rainbow Sash Catholic Church of St. Whatever”, presided over by the Most Reverend Stanford Nutting and his common law lesbian wife who has a real wife on the side.

  11. Loss of privelege and the inability to discriminate against minorities is not the same as being discriminated against. Equality does mean the equal treatment under the law, which the SCOTUS decided applies here. Any other questions?

  12. I am no Obama apologist. I have not been a fan of his hands off approach to Wall Street, I wanted him to push harder for single payer (or at least the public option), his failure to close Gitmo and his continuation of Bush era security policies, his over zealous use of drones, his failure to truly push infrastructure spending all highlight my list of Obama’s failures. But on this issueb we are in lock step.

  13. The unpleasant person who signs itself “relapsed catholic” has as much claim to the c-word as they have. That is what I meant, and I thought it moderately obvious. Or do you want to reinforce the British ethnic cliche’ that says that Americans don’t understand irony?

  14. Exactly. In other words, you are disposed to see your country beggared, every electoral promise broken, your government turned into a criminal association within the meaning of the act, so long as gays get to perform in pathetic imitations of the union of a man and a woman.

  15. The worst of your many errors about yourself is your curious belief that you can be funny.

  16. Yes, I understand that he was not talking about gays. He was talking about the Catholic Justices who were part of the majority who voted against DOMA. He thinks they have brought some kind of evil upon this country. It is scary to think that people would see it that way.

  17. Correct, it isn’t the same as being discriminated against. But there was a *reason* for the original discrimination, and until polygamists, incestous couples, age disparate couples, interspecies couples, and couples that include inanimate objects are able to marry, this isn’t Equality, this is just more privilege.

  18. Gay marriage still privileges sexual relationships over non-sexual ones. Is there any particular reason the equality argument shouldn’t extend to non-sexual relationships? Why not have generic civil partnerships that anyone can apply for?

  19. Spain is seeing a conservative backlash:

    Portugal is more reasonable, but also more passive aggressive, and has not succeeded in making homopobia disappear merely by instituting gay marriage and adoption over the disorganized right wing:

    In both of these cases, we see gay marriage imposed on a minority that does not want it, creating political division and a new despised class.

  20. Ahhh, the old false equivalency, I was wondering when we would arrive here. No, it is not the same as all those other categories. First, by barring LGBTQ people from marrying those in which they are orientated you have barred them from the institution completely. Polygamists are not, for if you can fall in love and commit to more than one woman, you could fall in love and commit to one woman alone. Second, no one is orientated exclusively to their children/ parents and moreover this is an abusive situation that has numerous psychological/ social/ ethical/ genetic objections, it is a complete non-sequitur. By age disparate I assume you mean between an adult and a minor, since may/ December romances are not barred by law. It is not allowed because minors cannot give consent, period end of story. The last two are absurd self-refuting arguments that I will not dignify by addressing. I will merely state that I am always disturbed when a social conservative jumps straight to beastiality.

  21. Wait…you compare my principled objection to the discrimination of my fellow humans to mass murderers…and I’m the unpleasant one? Stay classy Fabs.

  22. No, actually, you are amazing. You manage to get me wrong even when the meaning is obvious. I was commenting on the fact that a person who has as much to do with Catholicism as I with Communism has the nerve to sign himself Relapsed Catholic. You are evidently so eager to falsify what I say that you are unable to see the obvious.

  23. So…you compare my principled objection towards LGBTQ by my own church to the inhumanity of mass murderers…and I’m the ‘Unpleasant’ one? Stay Classy Fabs.

  24. Actually Bill S, I think they helped bring great justice to this country. I am quite proud of them.

  25. I do not need nerve, I have facts. I have received all the appropriate sacraments and understand all the teachings. I attend mass on Sundays and received Catholic education straight through my Bachelor’s of Science degree. If I disagree w/ this particular church teaching, it is because of my Catholic nature and character, not in spite of it.

  26. Why is the assumption that all marriages are sexual? I have several friends that would disagree with you. Loudly and angrily. Lol

    Seriously whether a relationship is sexual or not is not the business of the state, a church is different, but the state knowing or caring is just creepy.

  27. Please, he has done a far superior job to what either of his challengers would have done, and has been 10 times the president that his predecessor was. Or perhaps you still believe there were weapons of mass in Iraq?

  28. BUT how in the world does it impact the minority in their lives? 2 people being married is just that—2 people being married.

  29. Sorry, this doesn’t make sense. Why bother to marry at all?

    And of course spain and portugal may be going through some backlash. I wouldn’t expect anything less. I certainly would not expect homophobia to disappear once a law is passed. It’s not how things work.
    This very page is backlash about our own decision.

    The problem with opposition to gay marriage is that it really does not create an “injured party”. If it meant that once the law goes in the books catholics had to marry same sex partners, trust me, I’d be in the streets protesting along most readers of this blog.

    But all they are asking is to be free to marry and have their own families. Those that are Catholic will have to deal with their church’s discipline as they see fit, but if I was a non-catholic gay person, I sincerely wouldn’t care less about how the catholic feel about my marriage. And it would be none of their business.

    Do Catholics spend a lot of time wondering about marriages officiated by other faiths? Have they been protesting because some modern day Mormons in the US are polygamists? If they have, I must have missed it.

    Polygamy is certainly a much bigger attack to marriage as we know it than it is SSM. It is intrinsically unjust (since I don’t see a lot of women with multiple husbands) and it also would create untenable legal situations for business and government if, for example, a polygamist wanted to receive benefits for all their wives.

    How come I have not see the outrage about those unions? Is it because they are actually more biblical than regular marriage? Is it because being another faith there is a MAD mentality in place?

    No one is forcing catholic or anyone else to marry a same sex spouse. If there are kids involved that will be at the discretion of the parents. There are people in their 30 that are the fruit of same sex unions and I haven’t see one involved in a killing spree yet. I actually know a few myself and they are well adjusted people, considering they are in their early 20. Or, I should say, they are just as clueless and naïve as their peers. And not one of them is gay, which I find ironic in view of the fears of many fundamentalists.

    If one day someone wants to force the RCC to conduct gay marriages in their churches, or even just shame them into that, please drop me a note and I’ll come protesting alongside you. Short of that, I wish all the best for the new married couple in my state. May they prosper.

    And I invite you all to chill out a bit.