White House still says marriage not a federal issue

Jay Carney
File photo: Michael Key, Washington Blade CHRIS JOHNSON [e]Washington Blade[m]

WASHINGTON — White House Press Secretary Jay Carney maintained on Tuesday that President Obama’s LGBT remarks in his inaugural speech weren’t an attempt to nationalize the issue of marriage.

“The President believes that it’s an issue that should be addressed by the states,” Carney said in response to a question from Politico’s Reid Epstein.

Jay Carney
File photo: Michael Key, Washington Blade

Mainstream media outlets asked Carney several questions to clarify Obama’s views on marriage because of the LGBT references he made in his inaugural address, which included an assertion that “our gay brothers and sisters” should be treated equally under the law “for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”

NBC News’ Kristen Welker was first to ask whether the remarks — which suggested a national call to support marriage equality — represent a shift in Obama’s way of thinking from his previous position that marriage should be left to the states and not handled at the federal level.

“The President’s position on this has been clear in terms of his personal views,” Carney replied. “He believes that individuals who love each other should not be barred from marriage. He talks about this not about religious sacraments, but civil marriage. And that continues to inform his beliefs. We have taken position on various efforts to restrict the rights of Americans, which he generally thinks is a bad idea.”

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Carney indicated that Obama’s believes Section 3 of DOMA, which prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriage, is unconstitutional based on the belief that the federal government shouldn’t be involved in marriage.

“One the reasons why we believe that Section 3 of DOMA is not constitutional is because we should not addressing it in that way,” Carney said.

Pressed by NBC News on whether the remarks mean the Obama administration will participate in litigation before the Supreme Court challenging California’s Proposition 8, Carney provided no updates beyond his earlier stated non-anwers. The Justice Department has until Feb. 28 to file a friend-of-the-court brief in the lawsuit.

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