Obama administration files SCOTUS brief supporting marriage, opposing Prop 8
February 28, 2013
UPDATED 7:00pm: Today, President Barack Obama and the Department of Justice filed an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in Hollingsworth v. Perry, urging that Proposition 8, the ballot initiative that anti-gay activists succeeded in pushing through in November 2008 to strip same-sex couples of the freedom to marry in California in 2008, be oveturned. Earlier this week, President Obama filed a brief in Windsor v. United States urging the Court to overturn the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibits federal respect for marriage between same-sex couples.
Proposition 8, by depriving same-sex couples of the right to marry, denies them the 'dignity, respect, and stature' accorded similarly situated opposite-sex couples under state law. ... It thereby denies them equal protection under the law. ...
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.
Over the past two years, President Barack Obama and his administration have become increasingly vocal advocates for the freedom to marry, beginning with his announcement in February 2011 that the Obama administration believes that DOMA is unconstitutional. In May 2012, he made history by becoming the first sitting president to voice personal support for same-sex couples' freedom to marry. In the fall, he weighed in on four key marriage ballot measures in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington, asking residents there to support marriage for same-sex couples. He has expressed similar support for legislative marriage bills in Rhode Island and his home state of Illinois. And in his inaugural address in January, he called for the freedom to marry for all couples, saying, "Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law - for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well."
Freedom to Marry founder and president Evan Wolfson applauded the Obama administration's filing today. He said:
In his inaugural address, President Obama spoke of the nation's destination: liberty, equality, and inclusion for all. In its friend of the court brief filed today, the Justice Department provided the legal roadmap, calling on the Supreme Court to uphold the Constitution's command of equal protection under the law. It is time for the justices, like our president and the majority of Americans, to embrace the freedom to marry and get our country on the right side of history.
The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Hollingsworth v. Perry on March 26. A decision is expected in the case by late June 2013.