WASHINGTON – In a historic argument for gay rights, President Obama on Thursday urged the Supreme Court to overturn Californias same-sex marriage ban and turn a skeptical eye on similar prohibitions across the country.
The Obama administrations friend-of-the-court brief marked the first time a U.S. president has urged the high court to expand the right of gays and lesbians to wed. The filing unequivocally calls on the justices to strike down Californias Proposition 8 ballot measure, although it stops short of the soaring rhetoric on marriage equality Obama expressed in his inaugural address in January.
California is one of eight states that give gay couples all the benefits of marriage through civil unions or domestic partnership, but dont allow them to wed. The brief argues that in granting same-sex couples those rights, California has already acknowledged that gay relationships bear the same hallmarks as straight ones.
They establish homes and lives together, support each other financially, share the joys and burdens of raising children, and provide care through illness and comfort at the moment of death, the administration wrote.
The brief marks the presidents most expansive view of gay marriage and signals that he is moving away from his previous assertion that states should determine their own marriage laws.
Obamas position, if adopted by the court, would likely result in gay marriage becoming legal in the seven other states: Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon and Rhode Island.
Friend-of-the-court briefs are not legally binding. But the governments opinion in particular could carry some weight with the justices when they hear oral arguments in the case March 26.