WASHINGTON (CBS13/AP) — The Obama administration on Thursday will ask the Supreme Court to overturn California’s ban on gay marriage and take a skeptical view of similar bans, according to a person familiar with the government’s legal filing in the case.
“The bottom line is states should be able to define marriage as they see fit,” said said Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute.
The brief in the California Proposition 8 case does not call for marriage equality across the United States, but it does point the court in that direction.
The justices should subject laws that discriminate on sexual orientation to extra rigorous review, according to the filing. Such a standard of increased scrutiny would imperil other state bans on same-sex marriage.
The administration also contends that denying gays and lesbians the right to marry violates the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause.
While such friend-of-the-court briefs are not legally binding, the administration’s filing could have some influence on the justices when they consider the constitutionality of the ban in March.
The Justice Department planned to file the brief later Thursday, the deadline for the case. The justices will hear oral arguments in the case on March 26.
The person familiar with the brief spoke on anonymity in order to discuss the document before it was filed.
“It’s not about what you think is right and what you think is wrong. It’s, what are the core tenants of our country?” said Shara Murphy, president of the Sacramento LGBT Community Center.
Murphy says this is a big step in the right direction for the gay community, but believes the president’s move won’t sway the court’s decision.
“The court they decide on law, but I think this gives the public the opportunity to understand what the constitutional issues are,” said Murphy.
Others agree, saying they can only be cautiously optimistic.
“It would be nice for it to be the law of the land but I don’t see it going that far 09,” said Joseph Titus. “We’re just living our lives and we want to have the same rights as everyone else.”
The administration’s position, if adopted by the court, would probably result in gay marriage becoming legal in seven other states that, like California, give gay couples all the benefits of marriage but don’t allow them to wed. Those states include Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon and Rhode Island.
(The Associated Press contributed to this story.)