What Will Obama Rule on Gay Marriage?

President Barack Obama has come out in personal support of same-sex marriage, has encouraged states to recognize the rights of same-sex couples to marry and even led the movement to abolish Don't Ask, Don't Tell, but he has kept mum on whether or not he believes the Constitution gives gay people the right to marry. He may not have that luxury much longer, as the Supreme Court has two upcoming cases that have the potential to be watershed moments in the gay marriage movement. On March 26, the Supreme Court will weigh the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (which forbids the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages). On March 27, they'll tackle the issue of how constitutional gay marriage is, delivering a decisive ruling on California's famous Proposition 8. Although Obama could, theoretically, dodge either of these votes, he is largely expected to weigh in with his official position. If he rules against Prop 8, it will likely mean states will no longer be able to get away with a ban on same-sex marriages ...


Katharine McIntyre


Katharine McIntyre commented…

I would be tentative to call Obama's decision a "ruling." As far as I understand it, his opinion may have influence with the courts and it will break the ice for the Supreme Court by getting public opinion moving in the right direction, but it isn't an actual deciding factor in the Supreme Court's ruling. Ultimately the decision rests with the Court. All Obama can do is "file a friend-of-the-court brief," which only states his opinion, more the position of a lawyer than a judge. I'm glad to know that President Obama is respecting the limits of his power to that degree!

I do appreciate Slices a lot! Thanks for bringing so much good news into one place.



nathan commented…

This article grossly misstates Obama's role. Obama does not make a ruling, the Supreme Court does. Obama may try to influence the court, for example, when he weighed in on the health care debate, but the decision is not his to make.
It's also a misstatement to say that Obama has not stated his position as to the constitutionality of gay marriage. Because he taught constitutional law at one of the most prestigious law schools in the country, he is well aware of the constitutional boundaries of his positions.

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