clock menu more-arrow no yes

President Obama now says the Constitution protects same-sex marriage

President Barack Obama has overseen the broadest changes in LGBT rights out of any president.
President Barack Obama has overseen the broadest changes in LGBT rights out of any president.
Getty Images

President Barack Obama, who didn't support same-sex marriage until May 2012, now says the Constitution guarantees the right to marry to gay and lesbian couples.

In an article in the October 27 issue the New Yorker, Obama shared with Jeffrey Toobin his thoughts on why the Supreme Court hasn't decided the issue yet :

Obama opposed marriage equality until May of 2012. He told me that he now believes the Constitution requires all states to allow same-sex marriage, an argument that his Administration has not yet made before the Supreme Court. "Ultimately, I think the Equal Protection Clause does guarantee same-sex marriage in all fifty states," he said. "But, as you know, courts have always been strategic. There have been times where the stars were aligned and the Court, like a thunderbolt, issues a ruling like Brown v. Board of Education, but that’s pretty rare. And, given the direction of society, for the Court to have allowed the process to play out the way it has may make the shift less controversial and more lasting."

Up to this point, every federal appeals court that's issued a ruling on same-sex marriage has agreed with Obama. The unanimity among the circuit courts is one reason the Supreme Court dismissed appeals for multiple same-sex marriage cases earlier this month. But if a circuit court were to rule against marriage equality, it's very likely the Supreme Court would feel obligated to step in.

To learn more about same-sex marriage, read Vox's card stack and state-by-state breakdown of the court rulings.

Sign up for the newsletter The Weeds

Understand how policy impacts people. Delivered Fridays.