The Obama administration, through the Department of Justice, filed Thursday an amicus brief to tell the Supreme Court that Proposition 8, a same-sex marriage ban passed by California voters in 2008, is unconstitutional — reported the New York Times.
The administration claims that denying gay couples the right to marry violates the Constitution's equal protection clause, and that Prop 8 should be subjected to "heightened scrutiny."
The administration's brief also says that the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, or DOMA, a federal bill that defines marriage as "between one man and one woman," is also unconstitutional — as it denies same-sex married couples (from states where there is marriage equality) the same type of federal benefits enjoyed by married heterosexual couples.
And though the administration recognizes that opponents of same-sex marriage in California have argued that the state offers a marital state "in all but the name" (through benefits obtained by entering into civil unions), and that other seven states — Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, and Rhode Island — have similar "all-but-marriage" frameworks, "the designation of marriage confers a special validation of the relationship between two individuals and conveys a message to society that domestic partnerships or civil unions cannot match."
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. even ever further by issuing a statement suggesting the current fight for marriage equality is the civil rights issue of our era:
"[The brief] seeks to vindicate the defining constitutional ideal of equal treatment under the law," says the statement, adding that the court's decisions concerning the two same-sex marriage cases "are not just important to the tens of thousands of Americans who are being denied equal benefits and rights under our laws, but to our nation as a whole."