February 14, 2014 | by Chris Johnson
White House mum on marriage going to Supreme Court
Jay Carney, White House, gay news, Washington Blade

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney has no comment on marriage coming to the Supreme Court (Washington Blade file photo by Damien Salas).

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney side-stepped a question Friday on whether President Obama is eager to see the U.S. Supreme Court take up the issue of marriage equality, reflecting instead on the growth on public support of same-sex marriage.

In response to a question from the Washington Blade, Carney refused to comment on the potential for a nationwide ruling from the Supreme Court on marriage equality in the wake of federal court decision against Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage.

“Well, I’m not going to speak hypothetically about cases the Supreme Court may or may not take,” Carney said. “What I can tell you is the president supports, as he made clear, making available to LGBT Americans the rights that we all should enjoy, and his views on same-sex marriage were, I think, very powerfully expressed.”

Referencing Obama’s own evolution on his path to announcing his support for marriage equality, Carney said the president takes pride in the growing support for same-sex marriage in recent years.

“He feels very gratified by the enormous progress that’s been made on this issue, and the change in perspectives that I think we’ve seen ‘evolve’ across the country in rather a remarkable amount of time — a remarkably short amount of time — which is not to say that it shouldn’t have happened earlier, but that it is, given the way these kinds of struggles for equal rights play out, notable and commendable that Americans across the country have embraced this issue as strongly as the have,” Carney said.

Carney had no comment when asked whether he anticipates that the Obama administration would participate in any of the pending lawsuits seeking marriage equality as it did with litigation that overturned Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8.

“I wouldn’t be the right person to guess,” Carney said. “You might look for speculation at the Justice Department.”

The Justice Department didn’t immediately respond to the Washington Blade’s request to comment. The Obama administration participated in litigation against DOMA as a party to the lawsuit and in the case against Prop 8 as a friend of the court.

A number of LGBT advocates have weighed in on the possibility of the Obama administration participating in the marriage cases. Freedom to Marry President Evan Wolfson said the administration “should absolutely be part” of all the marriage cases, while legal duo Ted Olson and David Boies as well as Human Rights Campaign Chad Griffin said they’d welcome Obama’s participation.

A brief transcript of the exchange follows:

Washington Blade: A federal court yesterday ruled against Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage. At least four circuit courts will be considering the issue this spring, which likely means the Supreme Court will be taking up the issue and making a decision next year. Is the president eager for the Supreme Court to make an nationwide decision on this over the course of his presidency?

Jay Carney: Well, I’m not going to speak hypothetically about cases the Supreme Court may or may not take. What I can tell you is the president supports, as he made clear, making available to LGBT Americans the rights that we all should enjoy, and his views on same-sex marriage were, I think, very powerfully expressed. And he feels very gratified by the enormous progress that’s been made on this issue, and the change in perspectives that I think we’ve seen “evolve” across the country in rather a remarkable amount of time — a remarkably short amount of time — which is not to say that it shouldn’t have happened earlier, but that it is, given the way these kinds of struggles for equal rights play out, notable and commendable that Americans across the country have embraced this issue as strongly as the have.

Blade: But do you anticipate the administration will participate in the cases as much as it did in the DOMA and the Prop 8 cases?

Carney: I wouldn’t be the right person to guess. You might look for speculation at the Justice Department.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

2 Comments
  • The GOP is praying for a Supreme Court opinion which puts an end to the gay rights issues. Since only an opinion which affirms equal rights would do that, then the GOP is praying for a Supreme Court opinion which will affirm equal rights for gay people. Without the issue of gay rights dragging the GOP down, it will reclaim many member of they gay community and their friends and family who have felt the need to vote Democratic because of the gay rights issues.

  • Each of the decisions by Federal Courts that Marriage Inequality is Unconstitutional puts a nail in the coffin of hopes by the enemies of equality. I don't know how many repeats of the same Federal decision state by state will occur before the Supreme Court can no longer dodge the bullet of what their sub-courts are telling them.

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