The U.S. Supreme Court (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama said in a press conference Friday that if he sat on the Supreme Court, he would most likely rule that gay marriage bans are unconstitutional.
Obama's Justice Department filed a brief Thursday night with the Supreme Court urging the nine justices to overturn California's voter-approved gay marriage ban, which passed in 2008 with 52 percent of the vote. The brief argues that the state discriminates against gay couples in California without showing there is a legitimate government interest in doing so.
At the press conference, Obama, a former constitutional law professor, said he felt compelled to weigh in on the case after declaring last year his personal belief that gay people should be allowed to marry. "I didn't feel like that was something that this administration could avoid," he said of his decision to wade into the case. "I felt it was important for us to articulate what I believe and what this administration stands for."
He explained that although the government's brief only asks the court to strike down California's gay marriage ban, it's likely that dozens of other gay marriage bans in other states should be struck down as well.
States must prove they have a very good reason for discriminating against a group of people, the president said, and if they don't, the law needs to be struck down. "The court may decide that if it doesn't apply in this case it probably doesn't apply in any case," Obama said. "If I were on the court, that would be the view I'd put forward."
--Rachel Rose Hartman contributed to this report.