"President Barack Obama said he could not imagine a circumstance in which a state banning gay marriage was legal," the Puffington Host reports. The comment came during an interview with Clinton aide turned ABC Newsman George Stephanopoulos, who asked Obama, in the Puffington paraphrase, "whether gay marriage was a right under the Constitution."
Obama's answer:"Well, I've gotta tell you that--in terms of practical politics, what I've seen is a healthy debate taking place state by state, and not every state has the exact same attitudes and cultural mores. And I--you know, my thinking was that this is traditionally a state issue and--that it will work itself out," he said. "On the other hand--what I also believe is that the core principle that people don't get discriminated against--that's one of our core values. And it's in our Constitution."Stephanopoulos then asked whether Obama could imagine a circumstance wherein a state's gay marriage ban could pass constitutional muster."Well, I can't, personally. I cannot," Obama responded. "That's part of the reason I said, ultimately, I think that, same-sex couples should be able to marry. That's my personal position. And, frankly, that's the position that's reflected--in the briefs that we filed--in the Supreme Court."
That's a misleading description of the administration's friend-of-the-court brief in Hollingsworth v. Perry, the case challenging the constitutionality of California's Proposition 8. The administration does not go so far as to urge the court to strike down all state bans on same-sex marriage. Instead it urges a novel solution that would have the effect of abolishing nonmarital civil unions, until now the compromise of choice between supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage.