After the US Supreme Court took up two cases around equal marriage this week, President Barack Obama said in an interview that he thought there was a “strong basis” for allowing equal marriage, and the benefits which come with it.
Speaking in an interview with Univision on Wednesday, Obama declined to make a prediction on the possible outcome of the Supreme Court hearings, but did say that constitutionally he thought equal rights for same-sex couples should be offered.
“I never predict what the court will do,” Obama said. “But I used to teach constitutional law, and there is certainly a strong basis for determining that in this age, given what we now know, given the changes that have been taking place in the states around the country, same-sex couples should be treated fairly and have the same rights benefits, be able to transfer property, all the rights and recognitions that heterosexual couples do.”
In a second interview with Telemundo, Obama said he thought it was in line with the US Constitution to allow equal marriage, and he also said: “I think it is time for the justices to examine this issue.”
“I think not only is it right and fair but also consistent with our Constitution to recognize same-sex couples,” he continued. “It doesn’t mean everybody has to agree from a religious standpoint about this issue. It does mean that it is very important for us to remember that we’re a nation where everybody is supposed to be equal before the law.”
The US Supreme Court Justices on Wednesday indicated a possible interest in striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), as it heard arguments around the issue, and questioned whether there should be a federal law prohibiting states from individually deciding on the issue.
At today’s hearings, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli said that, if DOMA were to be struck down by the Supreme Court, it would be “difficult” for any state to defend its ban on same-sex marriage.
This was the second day of hearings, as Tuesday the court heard arguments around Proposition 8, the state of California’s ban on equal marriage. Then the justices questioned the meaning of marriage, and challenged arguments for the ban.
A decision by the Supreme Court in both cases is expected by the end of June.
Several polls released recently have found that support for equal marriage in the US has shifted greatly, and is an at all time high.
The former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, officially announced her support for equal marriage in a moving speech last week in which she called moves towards equality “breathtaking and inspiring”.
Speaking at his inauguration in January, President Barack Obama made a speech which said “our journey is not complete” until equal rights for gay people is reached, and referred to the importance of the Stonewall riots in terms of moves towards equality.