The Two-Way
3:46 pm
Thu February 28, 2013

Obama Will Side With Those Asking High Court To End Calif. Gay Marriage Ban

Originally published on Thu February 28, 2013 5:04 pm

Update at 6:44 p.m. ET. Limited Gay Marriage Right:

The Obama administration is asking the Supreme Court to end a ban on gay marriage in California.

But NPR's Nina Totenberg tells our Newscast unit that the government is arguing for limited gay marriage rights.

"The position that the administration takes falls short of saying that laws across the country should be struck down, but says that California's law should be struck down," Nina said. "The reason for that is that California, like seven other states, grants to gay couple all the rights that heterosexual couples have and therefore, the administration's position is 'Look you give these folks everything except the right to marry. By denying them the right to marry without a rational reason you are discriminating against them, just because they are gay."

Lyle Denniston, of SCOTUS Blog, adds that much of the government's logic "could be read to support a right to marriage equality in every state, but it did not endorse that idea explicitly."

Our Original Post Continues:

Siding with those who want to end California's ban on gay marriage, the Obama administration will file a brief with the Supreme Court, today.

NPR's Nina Totenberg reports the deadline for filing a brief on the Proposition 8 case is today. She filed this report for our Newscast unit:

"What is still unknown is what legal argument the administration makes in the brief to be filed later today.

"The president has sent mixed signals as to whether he will urge the court to strike down all state laws banning gay marriage of a limited number of laws, or just California's law. Best bet is a middle ground, urging the court to take one step at a time, instead of taking a giant leap."

Citing an "AP source," the AP reports the administration will argue for a "broad Supreme Court ruling."

The New York Times says the administrations position is not a surprise. Over the weekend, the administration asked the Supreme Court to strike down a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act.

But the Prop 8 case is different, reports the Times. The paper explains:

"The Supreme Court's ruling in the Defense of Marriage Act case will at most decide whether the federal government can discriminate against same-sex couples even if they married in states that allow such unions. Nine states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriage.

"The case from California presents the broader question of whether there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage in the states that do not allow it, which is why the new brief is significant. It is hardly certain, however, that the Supreme Court will end up deciding that broad question. The court may well avoid the issue on technical grounds or rule in a way that applies only to California."

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