Since oral arguments were heard in March, speculation over how the Supreme Court will rule on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California’s Proposition 8 has been abuzz. With a decision coming soon, perhaps even today, Catholics are speaking out hopefully given recent state level victories.
National Catholic Reporter (NCR) reports that few expect an overarching opinion similar to Lawrence v. Texas that struck down anti-sodomy laws. The NCR article predicts that marriage equality will be affirmed for California alone, and that the court will strike down DOMA, which would allow federal benefits for those couples already married in states with marriage equality. For many legal observers, the vast options the Supreme Court justices possess is part of why the rulings may be limited. If you’re interested, the NCR article explains the various legal options. Further analysis of the effects striking down DOMA would have is also available at The Huffington Post.
However, legal speculation has not suppressed high hopes from both sides of the equality debate who express optimism for their cause. A recent poll reported by Religion News Service revealed 72% of Americans view full marriage equality as “inevitable,” broken down into 89% who already support it and 59% who oppose it. Notably, for the first time in Pew’s polling a majority, although slim at 51%, supported equal marriage rights. The implications are obvious to many Catholics reports National Catholic Reporter:
” ‘It shows that public opinion has reached the tipping point, and that it’s just a matter of time before more and more states adopt marriage equality,’ said Frank DeBernardo, director of New Ways Ministry, a Catholic gay rights group.”
At this point, 12 states and the District of Columbia have marriage equality on the books and three of these states – Rhode Island, Delaware, Minnesota- passed it this past May alone. Many supportive regions are also heavily Catholic which is no coincidence:
“Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of DignityUSA, noted the high percentage of Catholics in Rhode Island and Minnesota, saying, ‘It shows that Catholics really do understand the basic dignity of human relationships, and that this is about love and commitment’…
” ‘People experience their cousin, their sister, their mother, their grandfather as a gay person and realize that the love that they share with their partners is just as deep, just as committed as anybody else’s,’ Duddy-Burke said…
” ‘Stereotypes about gay people are really becoming eradicated. They’re melting away,’ DeBernardo said, adding, ‘People are knowing that firsthand experience that gay and lesbian people are good citizens, are holy people and people who want to make a contribution to society.’ “
However the Supreme Court rulings turn out, the issue of marriage equality will not be settled and the work of advocating for same-gender marriage rights by Catholics will continue. Consider sending New Ways Ministry’s publication, Marriage Equality: A Positive Catholic Approach, to a friend, pastor, bishop, or family member, either by mail here or as a free PDF file here.
–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry