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White House Urges Court to Uphold Gay Marriage

Justice Department weighs in on California's Prop 8 case
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 28, 2013 4:00 PM CST
Updated Feb 28, 2013 7:38 PM CST

(Newser) – The Obama administration has ramped up its fight for gay marriage at the Supreme Court ahead of two big cases in late March. The Justice Department today issued a legal brief urging the court to strike down California's Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage, reports the Los Angeles Times. The ban violates the Constitution's equal-protection clause, argues the brief. “Tradition, no matter how long established, cannot by itself justify a discriminatory law,” it says. “Prejudice may not be the basis for differential treatment under the law.”

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At SCOTUSblog, Lyle Denniston notes that the brief does not explicitly call for a right to gay marriage nationwide, instead focusing on why the California ban is wrong. "The historic document, though, could give the Court a way to advance gay marriage rights, without going the full step ... of declaring that marriage should be open to all same-sex couples as a constitutional requirement." The government did not have to weigh in on the Prop 8 case because it is not directly involved, notes the New York Times. (It had no choice on the second case, that one dealing with a narrower issue involving the Defense of Marriage Act.) But it did so anyway, asserting that "the designation of marriage conveys a message to society that domestic partnerships or civil unions cannot match.” (Read more Proposition 8 stories.)

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