Document Type



This article offers the first analysis to date of national data evaluating whether defense of marriage acts (mini or super-DOMAs) preserve and stabilize the family. After finding that they do not—just as same sex marriage does not appear to destabilize families—the article analyzes what variables are, in fact, associated with family stability. Specifically, those variables are: families below the poverty line; men and women married three or more times; religiosity; percent conservative versus liberal in a state; disposable income; percent with bachelor’s degree; and median age of first marriage. Next, the article applies the sociological concepts of moral entrepreneurism and moral panic, defined, respectively, as the practice of political groups labeling certain behavior as deviant, and the reframing of a social phenomenon in moral terms to create an exaggerated sense of fear. These concepts serve as the theoretical explanation for mini-DOMAs continued attraction, even in the face of a looming U.S. Supreme Court decision that is likely to command the co-existence of same sex marriage and same sex marriage bans for some time to come. Finally, the article offers pragmatic recommendations for achieving family stability in light of mini-DOMA’s inability to succeed in this goal.