WASHINGTON — Citing the principle of equality that drove the nation's founding, President Barack Obama spoke out Friday against California's ban on gay marriage and said the Supreme Court should strike it down.
A day after his administration filed a friend-of-the-court brief unequivocally calling on the justices to strike down California's Proposition 8 ballot measure, Obama said he felt there was no way for his administration to avoid the case.
"I felt it was important for us to articulate what I believe and what this administration stands for," the president said.
The nation has gone through the same evolution he has gone through about how gay couples should be treated under the law, said Obama, who once opposed gay marriage but changed his position last year during his re-election campaign.
"I think this is a profoundly positive thing," Obama said in a White House news conference.
The administration's brief outlined a broad legal argument that could ultimately be applied to other state prohibitions across the country, but stops short of the soaring rhetoric on marriage equality Obama expressed in his inaugural address in January.
Still, it marks the first time a U.S. president has urged the high court to expand the right of gays and lesbians to wed.
Obama said the brief didn't explicitly argue that gay marriage should be made legal in every state because the case before the court deals specifically with California.
"That's an argument that I make, personally," Obama said. "The court may decide that if it doesn't apply in this case, it probably can't apply in any case. There no good reason for it."
The brief is not legally binding, though the government's opinion could carry weight with the Supreme Court when it hears oral arguments on Proposition 8 in late March.