The administration has one week to file a ‘friend-of-the-court brief’ with the justices outlining its opinion on the California ban, known as Proposition 8. While an administration brief alone is unlikely to sway the high court, the government’s opinion does carry weight with the justices.
Opponents of the Proposition 8 ban believe the president signaled his intention to file a brief when he declared in last month’s inaugural address that gays and lesbians must be “treated like anyone else under the law.” An administration official said Obama — a former constitutional law professor — was not foreshadowing any legal action in his remarks and was simply restating his personal belief in the right of gays and lesbians to marry, though the official said the administration was considering filing a brief.
Proposition 8 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 Washington, D.C., recognise same-sex marriage.
Solicitor General Donald Verrilli is consulting with the White House on the matter, according to a senior administration official, who spoke only on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to address the private deliberations publicly.