On Thursday, the Obama administration asked that the Supreme Court declare it unconstitutional for California to pass an amendment in 2008 that excludes same-sex couples from marriage, according to BuzzFeed.
“California law provides to same-sex couples registered as domestic partners all the legal incidents of marriage, but it nonetheless denies them the designation of marriage allowed to their opposite-sex counterparts. Particularly in those circumstances, the exclusion of gay and lesbian couples from marriage does not substantially further any important governmental interest. Proposition 8 thus violates equal protection,” Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. wrote for the administration.
The new position of the administration is discussed in a brief it filed with the Supreme Court asking to challenge Proposition 8 in California.
In a statement, Attorney General Eric Holder said, “In our filing today in Hollingsworth v. Perry, the government seeks to vindicate the defining constitutional ideal of equal treatment under the law. Throughout history, we have seen the unjust consequences of decisions and policies rooted in discrimination. The issues before the Supreme Court in this case and the Defense of Marriage Act case are not just important to the tens of thousands Americans who are being denied equal benefits and rights under our laws, but to our Nation as a whole.”
Holder told House Speaker John Boehner on February 23, 2011 that he and Obama concluded that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. This section prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex couples’ marriages.
The filing with the court also notes the following: “California is not alone in this regard. Seven other states provide, through comprehensive domestic partnership or civil union laws, same-sex couples rights substantially similar to those available to married couples, yet still restrict marriage to opposite-sex couples: Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, and Rhode Island.”
The filing does not say that the Constitution requires all states to permit same-sex couples to marry. On March 26, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the challenge of Proposition 8 and then on March 27, will hear arguments in the challenge against DOMA.