Fred Sainz of the Human Rights Campaign, a national gay-rights group, said filing such a brief would be a “natural extension of the inaugural remarks,” which he depicted as “an incredibly eloquent equal-protection argument.”
Political repercussions will probably be discussed further before the White House makes a final decision on the Supreme Court cases, Sainz said. But he suggested the administration had realized — after Obama’s re-election — that advocating for same-sex marriage is “both morally right and politically right.”
Obama has long portrayed himself as a gay-rights supporter and played a key role in ending the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in 2011 so gays could serve openly in the military. But only last year, after what he described as a process of “evolving,” did Obama come out publicly in favor of gay marriage, and even now legally married gay couples in the military are denied some important benefits accorded to heterosexual married couples.
On Tuesday, the White House directed to the Justice Department questions about whether the administration would file a friend-of-the-court brief in the Proposition 8 case. The department declined to comment.
Meanwhile, the defenders of Prop 8 filed their opening brief with the Supreme Court on Tuesday, arguing that the justices should allow public and political debate over same-sex marriage to continue rather than impose a judicial solution.
Other opponents of same-sex marriage took note of Obama’s inaugural remarks, in some cases with alarm and anger.
“Their implications are morally devastating for the definition of marriage,” wrote Denny Burk, a professor of biblical studies at the undergraduate arm of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. Burk, in a blog posting, contended that Obama’s rationale for legalizing marriage for gays could be extended to polygamists as well.
Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage, which has campaigned against same-sex marriage in many states, criticized Obama’s decision to raise the topic in his address.
“A presidential inauguration should be a time for the nation to come together,” Brown said. “Instead President Obama chose to voice his support for a radical agenda advanced by some of his biggest campaign contributors to redefine marriage for everyone.”