The Supreme Court will soon take up Proposition 8, a California's ban on same-sex marriage, a case that could give the justices the chance to rule on whether gay Americans have the same constitutional right to marry as heterosexuals.
Opponents of the ban have called on the Obama administration to file an amicus, or friend-of-the-court, brief to overturn the measure.
"We view the president's filing of an amicus brief in this case as the next natural step to his inaugural remarks," said Fred Sainz, vice president of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay rights groups. "His call for equal justice under the law for gay and lesbian Americans including in their committed relationships is the centerpiece of the argument against Proposition 8."
The White House has so far refused to take a position on the Supreme Court case.
For environmental groups, Obama's next best chance to make good on his inaugural address is a looming decision on the Keystone XL pipeline running from Canada to the Gulf Coast.
Obama blocked the pipeline last year, citing uncertainty over the project's route through environmentally sensitive land in Nebraska. But on Tuesday, the state's Republican governor, Dave Heineman, gave his approval to a revised route for the pipeline, a widely anticipated move that nonetheless added to the political pressure for the Obama administration to approve or reject the new route without delay.
"If we are going to get serious about climate change, opening the spigot to a pipeline that will export up to 830,000 barrels of the dirtiest oil on the planet to foreign markets stands as a bad idea," said Anthony Swift of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Republicans and many business groups say the pipeline project would help achieve energy independence.
The State Department, which has federal jurisdiction over the $7 billion pipeline because it begins in Canada, said Tuesday that it would not be able to conclude its review during the first quarter of the year.
White House officials sought to look beyond Keystone, with aides saying Tuesday that the president may also pursue executive actions to fulfill his pledge to tackle climate change.
Associated Press writers Matthew Daly, Josh Lederman and Donna Cassata contributed to this report.
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