WILL THE CATHOLIC CHURCH’S TAX EXEMPT STATUS BE THREATENED UNDER THE PUBLIC POLICY LIMITATION OF § 501(c)(3) IF SAME-SEX MARRIAGE BECOMES PUBLIC POLICY?

LINDSAY N. KREPPEL

As a result of the Supreme Court of the United States’ decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act’s definition of marriage as between a man and a woman, there now exists a divide between one of the Catholic Church’s established beliefs and an exception to the Internal Revenue Code’s grant of tax exempt status to religious organizations. The parameters of the Public Policy Doctrine have not fully materialized in relation to a decentralized definition of marriage, but the growing acceptance of a gender neutral characterization may jeopardize the Catholic Church’s claim that, at least on this subject, it is aligned with public interests. This article estimates that the Catholic Church is not likely to lose its tax exempt status regarding this issue. However, as the concept of gender neutral marriage becomes more pervasive, the financial consequences of a disparity between the Catholic Church’s philosophies and “well-established” public policy will demand much more attention.

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