Fight for marriage equality intensifies

Lawyers representing two gay and lesbian couples challenging California’s ban on gay marriage argued in a brief submitted to the Supreme Court today that “the right to marry is fundamental to all people.”

Though the fight for gay marriage has centered on California’s Prop. 8, Republican lawyer Ted Olson and co-counsel David Boies want to broaden the argument to the entire nation.

The Healdsburg City Council has joined in as well, agreeing this week to join a lawsuit challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Four other California cities – San Francisco, Los Angeles, Santa Monica and West Hollywood – have also demonstrated their support by filling as an “amicus,” or friend of the court.

Councilman Shaun McCaffery told The Santa Rosa Press Democrat that Healdsburg doesn’t typically chime in on issues “so great and potentially out of their sphere.” However, he added:

“This isn’t a federal issue, a state issue or even a political issue. It’s a human rights issue.”

And after three states legalized gay marriage in the 2012 election and President Barack Obama voiced his support for gay rights in last month’s inaugural address, it’s a very present issue.

The Obama administration is doing its part so far by asking the court to strike down part of DOMA and to rule that legally married gay couples deserve equal rights under federal law. But the administration has yet to broaden its support to answer the question of whether gays and lesbians should have the right to marry across the entire nation.

But the president is reportedly considering urging the court to overturn Prop. 8.

Olson told the LA Times:

“We would very much like the United States to file a brief as a friend of the court.”

The administration has until Feb. 28 to do so.

The justices will hear Prop. 8 arguments on March 26 and a day later, the challenge to DOMA’s definition of marriage as between a man and a woman.