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Californians weigh in on White House urging justices to reject Prop. 8

March 1, 2013 |  4:27 pm

The Obama administration's urging Supreme Court justices to strike down California's voter-passed law barring same-sex marriage indicates to the justices that "this is an issue whose time had come," said Alan Acosta, director of strategic initiatives for the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center.

Acosta was not surprised by the White House weighing in on the California case, he said. "It makes sense that at this critical moment when the highest court in the land is going to rule on this that you would want to be on the right side of this debate and be on the right side of history."

In a brief filed with the high court late Thursday, the administration said: "Tradition, no matter how long established, cannot by itself justify a discriminatory law."

"The designation of marriage," the brief notes, "conveys a message to society that domestic partnerships or civil unions cannot match."

People in California, particularly those in the LGBT community, are "focused like a laser" on the high court case, Acosta said.

California, he said, is a "leader in social and political trends." If gay marriage is allowed in the state, it "will have a ripple effect" throughout the country, he said.

Acosta said he does not tire of hearing news about the president's support of gay rights.

"After decades of having only bad news about our community, it's really sort of a celebration every time there's good news," he said. "I don't think people would ever be tired of that given just how many challenges we've faced in the last few generations."

The White House was not required to get involved in the California case, but the administration was heavily lobbied by gay rights groups that have orchestrated a series of briefs on their side by business leaders, prominent Republicans and other groups.

The decision to file a brief came after several weeks of hesitation and internal debate and marked the latest step in President Obama's self-described evolution on the issue of same-sex marriage.

West Hollywood resident Scott Schmidt, a gay Republican, also said he was not surprised by the White House brief. He said he was glad to see Obama shared the views of Dick Cheney, the former vice president, who has said he support same-sex marriage.

"Whether Democrats or Republicans, people need to see someone that they can relate to making the case" for gay rights, said Schmidt, a member of the Los Angeles chapter of Log Cabin Republicans. "We welcome the president being on board."

"If you believe in limited government and personal responsibility," he said, "then you should come to the conclusion that gays and lesbians shouldn't be treated any differently."

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-- Hailey Branson-Potts

twitter.com/haileybranson

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