US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Appeals court strikes down DOMA: Now what?

By Meghan Murphy-Gill | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

Is DOMA headed to the Supreme Court?

The Defense Against Marriage Act looks like it’s headed for the Supreme Court after it was again ruled unconstitutional, this time by a federal appeals court in New York. 

The Daily Beast’s Jay Michaelson thinks that this week’s ruling might “doom it before the high court”

Why? Because now that two federal courts have struck down DOMA’s key provisions in the past six months, the matter is almost certainly going to the Supreme Court, and the Second Circuit’s interpretation of equal protection inWindsor v. United States is more expansive than anything the high court has yet endorsed.

Still, the appeals court’s ruling is yet another blow to Catholics who’ve been fighting the legalization of same-sex marriage. Despite spending millions to make sure marriage is allowed only between “one man and one woman,” the U.S. bishops and groups like the Knights of Columbus seem to fighting a losing battle--at least in terms of popular opinion among Catholics . 

A recent Pew report finds that the the majority of Hispanic Catholics think same-sex marriage should be legal, with 54 percent in favor and 31 percent opposing it.

This is almost the reverse of just six years ago when 31 percent were in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage and 56 percent opposed it. (Comparatively, 53 percent of all Catholics are in favor, with 37 opposed.) 

Americans surveyed by Gallup believe that 25 percent of their fellow citizens are gay or lesbian, thought that number changes with the demographics surveyed. However, Gallup reports that fewer than 4 percent identify as LGBT.

If the Supreme Court strikes down DOMA, how will the church then respond? It looks like the bishops could have another Supreme Court decision to rally Catholics around in opposition.

Given all of the above opinions, it’s plausible that same-sex marriage could go the way of contraception, with most Catholics opposing the official teaching. The U.S. bishops have made it clear that they think Catholics need to be better informed about why the church teaches that marriage is saved for male and female couples. But, most Catholics understand these teachings. They simply disagree.