Thursday, December 5, 2013
Julie Pace / The Associated Press
(Continued from page 1)
A group protests against gay marriage outside the California Supreme Court in San Francisco in this 2011 photo. The Obama administration is quietly considering urging the Supreme Court to overturn California's ban on gay marriage, a step that could be a major political victory for advocates of same-sex unions.
The Supreme Court, which will take up the case on March 26, has several options for its eventual ruling. Among them:
— Uphold the state ban on gay marriage and say citizens of a state have the right to make that call.
— Endorse an appeals court ruling that would make same-sex marriage legal in California but apply only to that state.
— Issue a broader ruling that would apply to California and seven other states: Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon and Rhode Island. In those states, gay couples may join in civil unions that have all the benefits of marriage but may not be married.
— Rule that the Constitution forbids states from banning same-sex unions.
For weeks, supporters and opponents of Proposition 8 have been lobbying the administration to side with them.
Last month, Theodore Olson and David Boies, lawyers arguing for gay marriage, met with Verrilli and other government lawyers to urge the administration to file a brief in the case. A few days later, Charles Cooper, the lawyer defending Proposition 8, met with the solicitor general to ask the government to stay out of the case. Those kinds of meetings are typical in a high court case when the government is not a party and is not asked by the court to make its views known.
Boies and Chad Griffin, president of the advocacy group Human Rights Campaign, also had a meeting at the White House on the case.
Ahead of next week's deadline, nearly two dozen states have filed briefs with the court asking the justices to uphold the California measure.
Public opinion has shifted in support of gay marriage in recent years. In May 2008, Gallup found that 56 percent of Americans felt same-sex marriages should not be recognized by the law as valid. By November 2012, 53 percent felt they should be legally recognized.
One day after the court hears the California case, the justices will hear arguments on another gay marriage case, this one involving provisions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The act defines marriage as between a man and a woman for the purpose of deciding who can receive a range of federal benefits.
The Obama administration abandoned its defense of the law in 2011 but continues to enforce it.