Backgrounder on Proposition 8 and DOMA

What is Proposition 8 and DOMA and their importance
by USCCB | Source: www.usccb.org
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Proposition 8

What is Proposition 8?
Proposition 8 is the amendment to the California State Constitution defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.


How did Proposition 8 become law in California?
In November 2008, the voters of California approved of Proposition 8 in a referendum, with 52% voting in favor and 48% opposed.More than 7 million voters voted in favor of Proposition 8.


Why is Proposition 8 so important?
California's Proposition 8 is important because it is a legal recognition of the true meaning of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. In addition to California, 29 other states have constitutional amendments defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. An additional 6 states have statutes that define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Two other states do not have an explicit definition of marriage but only allow marriages between a man and a woman to be solemnized. Promoting and protecting marriage in the law is essential to securing the common good, especially the good of children who have a basic right to be raised by their own mother and father. If the law does not respect truth, it undermines the common good. Overturning Proposition 8 would gravely impact the institution of marriage and the religious freedom of those who uphold marriage and oppose its redefinition.


Why was Proposition 8 before the U.S. Supreme Court?
After its passage, Proposition 8 became the target of numerous lawsuits.The California State Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8. Later, the U.S. District Court in San Francisco ruled it a violation of the U.S. Constitution.On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco also ruled that Proposition 8 is a violation of the U.S. Constitution. The Proposition 8 case – Hollingsworth v. Perry – then went before the U.S. Supreme Court.


What was the basis of the claim that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional?
The principal claim of those opposed to Proposition 8 is that it violates the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Specifically, they argue that Proposition 8 allows two persons of the opposite sex to get married but not two persons of the same sex, thereby purportedly discriminating against persons in same-sex relationships.


What was the basic defense of Proposition 8?
Those defending Proposition 8 make a number of points, including that Proposition 8 is a rational law that honors the authentic definition of marriage, which is a legitimate interest of the State of California. Indeed, it is legitimate for the state to treat opposite-sex and same-sex relationships differently – as in the legal definition of marriage – because opposite- and same-sex relationships are very different in very practical ways. The former has a unique relationship to the common good – uniting a man and a woman with each other and with any children that may come from their union – which the latter does not. The law can, and should, specially affirm and protect the former and not the latter. Treating different things differently is not unjust discrimination.


What is the USCCB's position on Prop 8?
The USCCB supports upholding Proposition 8 and therefore upholding the true meaning of marriage, as the USCCB and numerous other organizations and individuals have made known to the Court. See the USCCB's amicus brief to the Court, CLICKHERE


DOMA

What is DOMA?
DOMA is the federal Defense of Marriage Act. DOMA has two key provisions. One provision, Section 3, defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman, for purposes of federal law.


How did DOMA become law?
In 1996, DOMA was passed overwhelmingly by Congress and then signed into law by President Bill Clinton.


Why is DOMA so important?
The definition of marriage in DOMA is important because it requires federal law, including more than 1,100 federal statutes, to recognize marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Promoting and protecting marriage in the law is essential to securing the common good, especially the good of children who have a basic right to be raised by their own mother and father. If the law does not respect truth, it undermines the common good. Overturning DOMA would gravely impact the institution of marriage and the religious freedoms of those who uphold marriage and oppose its redefinition.


Why was DOMA before the U.S. Supreme Court?
DOMA has been the target of numerous federal lawsuits, one of which – United States v. Windsor – is now before the Court.


What was the basis of the claim that DOMA Section 3 is unconstitutional?
The principal claim of those opposed to DOMA is that the federal definition of marriage violates the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Specifically, they claim that the Constitution prohibits the federal government from treating legal same-sex "marriages" differently than legal opposite-sex marriages. They also argue that under the U.S. Constitution, the states – not the federal government – are the ones to properly define marriage.


What was the basic defense of DOMA Section 3?
Those defending DOMA assert that it is legitimate for the government to treat same-sex and opposite-sex relationships differently – as in the legal definition of marriage – because opposite- and same-sex relationships are very different in very practical ways. The former has a unique relationship to the common good – uniting a man and a woman with each other and with any children that may come from their union – which the latter does not. The law can, and should, specially affirm and protect the former and not the latter. Treating different things differently is not unjust discrimination. Supporters also assert that the federal government has the power to define terms it uses in federal law – terms like "marriage."


What is the USCCB's position on DOMA?
The USCCB supports upholding DOMA and therefore upholding the true meaning of marriage, as the USCCB and numerous other organizations and individuals have made known to the Court. See the USCCB's amicus brief to the Court, CLICKHERE




Read More:

Supreme Court Decisions on Marriage:

'Tragic Day for Marriage and our Nation,'

State U.S. Bishops







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