Thursday, February 28, 2013

Obama Administration Urges Supreme Court to Allow Same-Sex Marriage in California and Seven Other States

By Robert Gammon
Thu, Feb 28, 2013 at 4:30 PM

The Obama Justice Department urged the US Supreme Court today to overturn Proposition 8, California’s anti-gay marriage law. The DOJ, however, stopped short of calling for all anti-gay-marriage laws nationwide to be invalidated. Instead, the administration stated in its legal brief that California is a special case.

The Obama administration noted that California is one of only eight states that allows same-sex couples to register as domestic partners or partake in civil unions — but then denies those couples the right to get married. The DOJ argued that this separate and unequal setup violates the US Constitution. “Proposition 8’s denial of marriage to same-sex couples, particularly where Calfiornia at the same time grants same-sex partners all the substantive rights of marriage, violates Equal Protection,” the brief states.

If the high court agrees with this reasoning, it likely would strike down similar anti-gay marriage laws in Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, and Rhode Island — but not in states that have no domestic partnership or civil unions laws.

Late last week, the lawyers for Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, the lesbian couple from Berkeley who is suing to overturn Prop 8, urged the Supreme Court to allow same-sex couples to wed in every state the country.

However, the Obama DOJ also is asking the Supreme Court to finally recognize gays and lesbians as a protected class — like other groups that have been discriminated against throughout history. And if the high court agrees, it could eventually declare that all anti-gay-marriage laws are unconstitutional because they single out a protected class of people for discrimination.

Last week, the Obama DOJ also asked the Supreme Court to overturn the federal anti-gay-marriage law in a related case. The high court is expected to rule on the cases this June.

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