The Norman Transcript

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February 21, 2013

Obama considers weighing in on gay marriage case

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is quietly considering urging the Supreme Court to overturn California’s ban on gay marriage, a step that would mark a political victory for advocates of same-sex unions and a deepening commitment by President Barack Obama to rights for gay couples.

Obama raised expectations among opponents of the Proposition 8 ban when he declared in last month’s inaugural address that gays and lesbians must be “treated like anyone else under the law.” The administration has until Feb. 28 to intervene in the case by filing a “friend of the court” brief.

The Proposition 8 ballot initiative was approved by California voters 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.

An administration brief alone is unlikely to sway the Justices but the federal government’s opinion does carry weight with the court.

A final decision on whether to file a brief has not been made, a senior administration official said. 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.

While the Justice Department would formally make the filing, the president himself is almost certain to make the ultimate decision on whether to file.

“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,” Obama said Wednesday in interview with San Francisco’s KGO-TV.

He said his personal view is that gay couples should have the same rights as straight couples and said his administration would do whatever it could to promote that principle.

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