The Obama administration on Friday said that it would call on the Supreme Court to strike down gay marriage bans in all 50 states.

Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement released soon after the high court announced that it would hear cases challenging bans in four states that the Justice Department would file an amicus brief in support of plaintiff couples.

(Related: Supreme Court agrees to hear four cases challenging gay marriage bans.)

“After the Justice Department's decision not to defend the constitutionality of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, the Supreme Court sent a powerful message that Americans in same-sex marriages are entitled to equal protection and equal treatment under the law,” Holder said in a statement. “This landmark decision marked a historic step toward equality for all American families.”

“The Supreme Court has announced that it will soon hear several cases raising core questions concerning the constitutionality of same-sex marriages. As these cases proceed, the Department of Justice will remain committed to ensuring that the benefits of marriage are available as broadly as possible. And we will keep striving to secure equal treatment for all members of society – regardless of sexual orientation.”

“As such, we expect to file a 'friend of the court' brief in these cases that will urge the Supreme Court to make marriage equality a reality for all Americans. It is time for our nation to take another critical step forward to ensure the fundamental equality of all Americans – no matter who they are, where they come from, or whom they love.”

Gay couples can currently marry in 36 states, plus the District of Columbia.