Despite all the headlines that were made when President Barack Obama voiced his support for same-sex marriage, the views the president expressed were personal and did not reflect the views of the administration. But as major cases involving the rights of same-sex couples to marry and receive federal benefits head to the U.S. Supreme Court, the administration may have to make a more affirmative statement about its official stance on the issue.
Obama, in his comments to ABC News last week, was careful to clarify that he believed that issues involving the legality of same-sex marriage should be worked out state-by-state. A careful parsing of Obama’s words revealed, according to SCOTUSblog’s Lyle Denniston, “suggests strongly that he is not committed to making same-sex marriage a right protected by the Constitution.”
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal’s Jess Bravin notes, high profile cases – including the challenge to California’s Proposition 8 – are expected to be taken up by the Supreme Court as soon as later this year. In that case, as well as a case by legally married Massachusetts residents suing to receive federal benefits, could result in increased pressure on the White House.
Should the Court take up the cases, Obama “will surely be asked by advocates for LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] rights to support a decision upholding a federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage, which would take it out of the hands of the states,” Theodore Olson, one of the attorneys leading the challenge to Prop 8, told the WSJ.