The Herald Bulletin

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February 28, 2013

Obama expected to weigh in on gay marriage case

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration on Thursday is widely expected to urge the Supreme Court to strike down California's ban on gay marriage, a case that could have sweeping implications for the right of same-sex couples to wed.

The administration's friend-of-the-court brief would not be legally binding but could have some measure of influence on the court when it considers the constitutionality of the Proposition 8 measure in March. The brief would also offer clearer insight into President Barack Obama's evolving views on gay marriage. Obama supports same-sex unions but has said marriage should be governed by states.

Thursday is the deadline for the administration and other parties to file friend-of-the-court briefs.

Gay rights advocates have pressed the president to urge the court not only to strike down Proposition 8, but also to rule that the Constitution forbids any state from banning same-sex unions. The administration may also choose a narrower option, including asking the court to strike down only California's ban.

Another option would be for the administration to ask the court to rule that California and other states that allow unions carrying all of the benefits of marriage cannot take that right away. Seven other states allow gay couples to join in civil unions that have full marriage benefits.

The Proposition 8 ballot initiative was approved by California voters in 2008 in response to a state Supreme Court decision that had allowed gay marriage. Twenty-nine other states have constitutional amendments banning gay marriage, while nine states and the District of Columbia recognize same-sex marriage.

A flurry of states, organizations and individuals have filed briefs in the Proposition 8 case in recent days.

Thirteen states, including four that do not currently permit gay couples to wed, urged the court on Thursday to declare Proposition 8 unconstitutional, saying marriage enhances economic security and emotional well-being for the partners, and is better for children.

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