Story highlights

Administration expressed opinion in same-sex marriage case before Supreme Court

Court will hear issue next month

Obama has had an evolving position on gay rights

The Obama administration has formally expressed its support of same sex marriage in California.

It said in a legal brief on Thursday that gay and lesbian couples there have the same “equal protection” rights to wed, and that voters in the state were wrong to ban it, according to an administration official.

An appeal in the so-called Proposition 8 case will be formally filed later on Thursday with the U.S. Supreme Court, which will hear the issue in March.

That case and another appeal over the federal Defense of Marriage Act will produce blockbuster rulings from the justices in coming months.