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Cannot discriminate against same sex couples: Obama

March 02, 2013 01:56 IST

United States President Barack Obama on Friday said that same sex couples need to be treated equal and they cannot be discriminated when it comes to marriage, a day after his administration approached the US Supreme Court to strike down a California law in this regard.

"As everybody here knows, last year, upon a long period of reflection, I concluded that we cannot discriminate against same-sex couples when it comes to marriage, that the basic principle that America is founded on, the idea that we're all created equal, applies to everybody, regardless of sexual orientation as well as race or gender or religion or ethnicity," Obama told White House reporters.

"When the Supreme Court essentially called the question by taking this case about California's law, I didn't feel like that was something that this administration could avoid. I felt it was important for us to articulate what I believe and what this administration stands for," he said.

"Although I do think that we're seeing on a state-by-state basis progress being made, more and more states recognising same-sex couples and giving them the opportunity to marry and maintain all the benefits of marriage that heterosexual couples do, when the Supreme Court asks, do you think that the California law, which doesn't provide any rationale for discriminating against same-sex couples other than just the notion that they're same-sex couples.

"If the Supreme Court asks me or my attorney general or a solicitor general, do we think that meets constitutional muster, I felt it was important for us to answer that question honestly, and the answer is no," said the US president.

The solicitor general, in his institutional role of going before the Supreme Court, is obliged to answer the specific question put before them. The specific question presented before the court right now is whether Prop. 8 and the California law is unconstitutional.

"What we've done is we've put forward a basic principle, which applies to all equal protection cases. Whenever a particular group is being discriminated against, the court asks the question, what's the rationale for this, and it better be a good reason, and if you don't have a good reason, we're going to strike it down," he said.

"What we've said is that same-sex couples are a group, a class that deserves heightened scrutiny, that the supreme court needs to ask the state why it's doing it, and if the state doesn't have a good reason, it should be struck down. That's the core principle, as applied to this case," he said.

Lalit K Jha in Washington
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