So far, President Barack Obama has gone little further than voicing his own personal support for same-sex marriage, although the platform he gave it in his second inaugural address was significant.
Impending arguments in the U.S. Supreme Court over the federal Defense of Marriage Act and the ban against gay marriage incorporated in California’s Proposition 8 offer the Obama administration an opportunity to take real stands. The White House has spoken on DOMA, arguing in a court filing that it “violates the fundamental constitutional guarantee of equal protection.” The question is how much further the administration will go with Prop 8.
The president’s supporters are rallying the base, as a Thursday deadline looms for filing an argument in the Prop 8 case. The California amendment will be argued on March 26, DOMA on March 27, with rulings likely by the end of June.
We have a President who’s fighting for the right of all people to marry, no matter who they love. Get his back: j.mp/15eomYm
— D Wasserman Schultz (@DWStweets) February 25, 2013
The betting is that the Obama administration will weigh in on Prop 8.
— Ari Shapiro (@arishapiro) February 21, 2013
And the administration basically has four options if it does — ranging from small-ball to major league play:
It could argue that the sponsors of Prop 8 lacked “standing” to appeal. This would reinstate the district judge’s ruling favoring gay marriage — and return the case to the lower court level to sort out exactly what it means.
It could contend that California can’t take away same-sex marriage rights once they had been granted. This is basically what the 9th Circuit said, and it would apply only to California.
Or it could argue that California can’t give gay couples all the rights and responsibilities of marriage yet withhold the word “marriage” from them. This would apply to California, plus seven other states.
Lastly, it could argue that the Constitution requires same-sex marriage nationwide.
Greg Stohr contributed to this report.