WASHINGTON – Four years ago, Barack Obama was undecided about the legality of same-sex marriages.
Two years ago, he said he personally supports same-sex marriage, but that each state should decide for itself.
As of today, his views have changed again – stating, in an interview with the New Yorker, that the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to same-sex marriages in all 50 states.
“Ultimately, I think the Equal Protection Clause [of the U.S. Constitution] does guarantee same-sex marriage in all 50 states,” Obama said. “But, as you know, courts have always been strategic. There have been times where the stars were aligned and the Court, like a thunderbolt, issues a ruling like Brown v. Board of Education, but that’s pretty rare. And, given the direction of society, for the Court to have allowed the process to play out the way it has may make the shift less controversial and more lasting.”
The Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution has been repeatedly cited by judges in the vast majority of the 46 pro-equality rulings that have come from state and federal courts since the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act last year – a law that was overwhelmingly enacted by both houses of Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton.
Obama said he thinks the biggest decision of the U.S. Supreme Court during his presidency was the its recent decision to pass the buck on same-sex marriage.
“In some ways, the decision that was just handed down to not do anything about what states are doing on same-sex marriage may end up being as consequential – from my perspective, a positive sense – as anything that’s been done,” the president said, referring to this month’s Supreme Court decision to let stand lower court rulings in favor of same-sex marriage in five states.
“Because I think it really signals that although the Court was not quite ready – it didn’t have sufficient votes to follow Loving v. Virginia and go ahead and indicate an equal-protection right across the board – it was a consequential and powerful signal of the changes that have taken place in society and that the law is having to catch up.”