Obama: Court must end California gay marriage ban

Protest in favour of Proposition 8, California (file pic, November 2008)

A California ban on gay marriages should be overturned by the US Supreme Court, the Obama administration says.

In a legal brief filed ahead of arguments scheduled for late March, the justice department says the ban – known as Proposition 8 – is unconstitutional.

Outlawing same-sex marriage while offering marriage-like rights under law contravenes the right to equal protection under law, the brief says.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments on two same-sex marriage issues.

As well as Proposition 8, the nine justices will consider the Defense of Marriage Act, a Clinton-era piece of US federal legislation that defines marriage as solely being between a man and a woman.

Proposition 8 was approved by a majority of California voters in November 2008, and has faced a series of legal challenges ever since.

It was challenged by the state but upheld by the state Supreme Court, and overturned by a district court following a private legal challenge.

In the brief to the Supreme Court, the administration makes a clear statement that gay couples should be afforded the right to marry in states where they are offered legal rights as domestic partners.

“California law provides to same-sex couples registered as domestic partners all the legal incidents of marriage, but it nonetheless denies them the designation of marriage allowed to their opposite-sex counterparts,” the brief says.


BBC has the full article

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