The Obama administration’s friend-of-the-court brief has become the first time a U.S. president has unequivocally called on the justices to expand the right of gays and lesbians to wed.
The filing aimed to urge the Supreme Court to strike down California’s Proposition 8 ballot measure, although it stops short of the soaring rhetoric on marriage equality the U.S. president spoke about in his inaugural address in January.
California is one of eight states that provide same-sex couples with all the benefits of marriage through civil unions or domestic partnership, but prohibit them to wed.
This brief disputes the set of rights given to same-sex couples, and 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 released statement marks Obama’s most prominent view of same-sex marriage and signals that he is moving away from his previous assertion that states should create their own marriage laws.
President Obama, a constitutional law professor in the past, signed off on the administration’s legal argument last week following lengthy discussions with Attorney General Eric Holder and Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, reports Fox News.
In a statement following the filing, Holder said “the government seeks to vindicate the defining constitutional ideal of equal treatment under the law.”
While the administration are thinking over the situation in California, it still don’t argue the constitutional right for same-sex couples to wed there should be extended to the 41 states that currently allows only man-woman marriages.
The justices will hear the case in March, writes CNN.
“The government seeks to vindicate the defining constitutional ideal of equal treatment under the law,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “Throughout history, we have seen the unjust consequences of decisions and policies rooted in discrimination.”
“The issues before the Supreme Court in this case and the Defense of Marriage Act case are not just important to the tens of thousands Americans who are being denied equal benefits and rights under our laws, but to our nation as a whole,” Holder added.
The White House was not expected to issue a separate statement.
The Californian case and another appeal over the federal Defense of Marriage Act will produce numerous rulings from the justices in next future months.
Gay marriage could become a defining moment in Obama’s presidency, similar to the political impact last year when the Supreme Court upheld the health care reform law he suggested.
Now the U.S. president has to decide how much political capital to expend in coming months when expressing his views and those of the executive branch.
Gay rights groups had privately urged the president and his administration to support the right to marry for the same-sex couples and come down “on the side of history.”