Continued from page 2

White House press secretary Jay Carney said public officials who are expressing support for same-sex marriage, and polls reflecting more public support for it, are a “welcome phenomenon.”

“The president has noted … the transformation that’s been taking place in American society on these issues,” Mr. Carney said. “It is a recognition by an increasing number of Americans that gay and lesbian Americans ought not to be discriminated against. And it reflects his core beliefs on these issues.”

Mr. Verrilli, representing the Justice Department, also took part in Tuesday’s oral arguments, saying in part that states with same-sex “civil unions” also should be required to accept full recognition of gay marriage as well.

Mr. Verrilli is back in court on Wednesday to agree with a lesbian widow that the federal Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 is unconstitutional.

Dave Boyer contributed to this report.