Barack Obama | DOMA | Federal Prop 8 Trial | Gay Marriage | George Stephanopoulos | Proposition 8 | Supreme Court

Obama: I Cannot Imagine That Laws Banning Gays from Marrying Will Pass Constitutional Muster - VIDEO


In a wide-ranging interview with George Stephanopoulos to air on Nightline tonight , President Obama talks about marriage equality and the cases ahead at the Supreme Court.

Asks Stephanopoulos: "Do you still believe that, or do you now believe that gay marriage is a right guaranteed to all Americans by the Constitution?"

Obama (from transcript):

Well, I’ve gotta tell you that in terms of practical politics, what I’ve seen is a healthy debate taking place state by state, and not every state has the exact same attitudes and cultural mores. And I you know, my thinking was that this is traditionally a state issue and that it will work itself out. On the other hand, what I also believe is that the core principle that people don’t get discriminated against – that’s one of our core values. And it’s in our constitution. It’s in the, you know, 14th Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause. And...from a legal perspective, the bottom line is, is that gays have historically been discriminated against and I do think that courts have to apply what’s called heightened scrutiny, where they take a careful look. If there’s any reason for gays and lesbians to be treated differently, boy, the government better....have a really good...what I believe is that if the states don’t have a good justification for it, then it probably doesn’t stand up to constitutional muster."

"Can you imagine one?", asks Stephanopoulos:


I can’t, personally. I cannot. That’s part of the reason I said, ultimately, I think that, you know, same-sex couples should be able to marry. That’s my personal position. And, frankly, that’s the position that’s reflected in the briefs that we filed in the Supreme Court.

My hope is that– the Court looks at the evidence and and in the California case, for example, the only reason presented for treating gays and lesbians differently was, “Well, they’re gay and lesbian.” There wasn’t– a real rationale beyond that. In fact you know, all the other rights and and responsibilities of a civil union were identical to marriage. It’s just you couldn’t call it marriage. Well, at that point, what you’re really sayin’ is “We’re just gonna treat these folks differently because of who they are.” And I do not think that’s who are as Americans. And  frankly, I think American attitudes have evolved, just like mine have, pretty substantially and fairly quickly, and I think that’s a good thing.

Excerpts from some other portions of the interview, AFTER THE JUMP...


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  1. So glad he's my President... Cue the haters in 3, 2...

    Posted by: RONTEX | Mar 13, 2013 11:10:15 AM

  2. Very good, mr President and thank you.

    Posted by: Matt26 | Mar 13, 2013 11:10:25 AM

  3. Right, so gay marriage is a "state issue," but when a state legalizes marijuana, all of a sudden the states can't be trusted to make their own decisions.

    The man is a charlatan.

    Posted by: Jack | Mar 13, 2013 11:10:48 AM

  4. A charlatan? Clutch your pearls and shut your mouth.

    Posted by: Mikey | Mar 13, 2013 11:18:06 AM

  5. @Jack - The question is whether the State action is a Power reserved to the State or Federal Government (combination of) under the Constitution.

    As previously argued, Marriage is a States right issue under the 10th Amendment [“...powers not granted to the federal government by the Constitution, nor prohibited to the States, are reserved to the States or people”].

    Further, although the 10th Amendment did not reject the powers implied by the Necessary and Proper Clause, I believe it would be an expansion of powers to attempt to use the "Necessary and Proper Clause" to grant the Federal Government power over defining Marriage, which has historically rested with States.

    States Banning Marriage Equality: I believe it will come down to an Equal Protection argument [14th]. Although States have the power to define 'marriage', EP prevents the disparate treatment and impact in that definition. EP will also get you pass another State's "Public Policy Doctrine" as to the application of the Full Faith and Credit Clause.

    Posted by: Belthazar | Mar 13, 2013 11:26:58 AM

  6. "Clutch your pearls" is so February 2013, guys.

    Posted by: DW | Mar 13, 2013 11:31:34 AM

  7. He is in his second term and doesn't have to watch what he says anymore. Good for him.

    Posted by: Jack M | Mar 13, 2013 11:36:53 AM

  8. @Jack

    What Obama actually said was that he had previously thought it was a State's right issue...he obviously doesn't think that now.

    But you do make a good point about State's Rights and marijuana.

    Posted by: woodroad34 | Mar 13, 2013 11:38:00 AM

  9. Barack Obama, meet John Roberts. John Roberts, Barack Obama.

    The Supreme Court as it is now constituted is logic-adverse and reactionary.

    Posted by: jamal49 | Mar 13, 2013 11:44:23 AM

  10. It IS a state's right issue, but only as far as the state's laws don't run afoul of the US Constitution, as noted above by Belthazar. Once the states attempt to deny equal protection of the law to their citizens, it becomes the Federal government's responsibility to step in and protect the fundamental rights of all.

    Posted by: RWG | Mar 13, 2013 12:56:21 PM

  11. It's true that precedent and logic mean nothing to Scalia, Thomas and Alito. Kennedy and Roberts can sometimes be brought around to reason. It depends on their personal views, not so much on the law per se (ironically, given their job descriptions).

    Fortunately, Roberts and especially Kennedy have a track record of personal sympathy for gay and lesbian case law. I think they're both persuadable on each of the current cases. It's no slam dunk but I put the odds at 60/40 for us.

    Posted by: dw | Mar 13, 2013 1:00:25 PM

  12. Californians, if the case doesn't go our way, get ready to organize a YES for Marriage for All campaign culminating on Nov. 4, 2014! Prop 8 has got to go...enough already.

    Posted by: Matt | Mar 13, 2013 1:17:21 PM

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