President Obama is considering urging the US supreme court to overturn California’s ban on gay marriage.
Proposition 8 was voted by Californians in 2008 and overturned a state supreme court decision allowing gay marriage.
Twenty-nine other states have constitutional amendments banning gay marriage, while nine states and Washington, D.C., recognize same-sex marriage.
Obama told San Francisco’s KGO-TV that the government is considering filing an administration brief against proposition 8 in the supreme court.
Experts note that a government opinion does carry weight with the supreme court.
A final decision on whether to file a brief has not been made, a senior administration official told the Associated Press.
Solicitor General Donald Verrilli is consulting with the White House on the matter, said the official, speaking only on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to address the private deliberations publicly.
Obama would make the final decision if the US justice department would formally file the case.
In the interview with KGO-TV, the president said: ‘I have to make sure that I’m not interjecting myself too much into this process, particularly when we’re not a party to the case’.
The administration could also file a narrower brief that would ask the court to issue a decision applying only to California. Or it could decide not to weigh in on the case at all.
According to the Associated Press, the supreme court, which will take up the case on March 26, has several options for its eventual ruling.
- The justices could uphold the state ban on gay marriage and say citizens of a state have the right to make that call.
- The court could endorse an appeals court ruling that would make same-sex marriage legal in California but apply only to that state.
- The court could issue a broader ruling that would apply to California and seven other states: Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon and Rhode Island. In those states, gay couples can join in civil unions that have all the benefits of marriage but cannot be married.
- The broadest ruling would be one that says the Constitution forbids states from banning same-sex unions.
Obama has been recently stating his support for marriage equality and opposition to Proposition 8.
One day after the court hears the California case, the justices will hear arguments on another gay marriage case, this one involving provisions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, known as DOMA.
The act defines marriage as between a man and a woman for the purpose of deciding who can receive a range of federal benefits.
The Obama administration abandoned its defense of the law in 2011 but continues to enforce it. Because DOMA is a federal law and the government is a party to the case, the administration does not have to state its opposition through a friend of the court brief.
Watch Obama come out in support of gay marriage on KGO-TV: