Wednesday, June 26, 2013

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

By Kathy Schiffer
Ave Maria Radio

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.”

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