President Obama said on Friday that he would vote to legalize same-sex marriage in the entire nation, were he one of the Supreme Court justices considering the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8. The administration filed an amicus brief in the case on Thursday, arguing that the proposition violated the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law without specifically asking the justices to legalize marriage equality everywhere.
“When the Supreme Court essentially called the question by taking this case about California’s law, I didn’t feel like that was something this administration could avoid,” Obama said during a press conference. “I felt it was important for us to articulate what I believe and what this administration stands for,” he went on, before explaining that the question before the Court concerns California’s specific provision:
The specific question presented before the Court right now is whether Prop 8 and the California law is unconstitutional and what we’ve done is we’ve put forward a basic principle which applies to all equal protection cases. Whenever a particular group is being discriminated against, the court asks the question, what is the rational for this. And it better be a good reason. And if you don’t have a good reason, we’re going to strike it down.
However, Obama noted that if the Court decides that California cannot find a compelling reason to ban same-sex marriage, then it may rule that all bans fail Constitutional muster and allow gay and lesbian couples to marry anywhere in the country. “If I were on the Court, that would probably be the view that I’d put forward,” he said.
When Obama first publicly endorsed marriage equality on May 9, 2012, he stressed that the matter of marriage should be left to the states. “And I continue to believe that this is an issue that is gonna be worked out at the local level, because historically, this has not been a federal issue, what’s recognized as a marriage,” he told ABC’s Robin Roberts.