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Activist Groups Urge Obama to Reject Boy Scout Honor

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Activist groups, including Scouting for All, urge President Obama not to accept the honorary Presidency of the Boy Scouts of America until they stop discriminating.

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JANUARY 17, 2005

White House Again Backs Amendment on Marriage



The White House sought on Sunday to reassure conservatives that President Bush would work hard on behalf of a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, backtracking from remarks Mr. Bush made in an interview suggesting that he would not press the Senate to vote on the amendment this year.

In an interview with The Washington Post published on Sunday, Mr. Bush said many senators did not see the need for the amendment as long as the law known as the Defense of Marriage Act was in place. Because many senators are waiting to see if that legislation can withstand a constitutional challenge, "nothing will happen" for now with the proposed amendment, Mr. Bush said.

In the same interview, Mr. Bush said that his victory in last year's presidential race was an "accountability moment" in which voters accepted his view of the need to remove Saddam Hussein from power. His remarks on Iraq drew barbed replies from some Democrats.

Appearing on "Face the Nation" on CBS, Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts called the president's statement about accountability "ridiculous," and drew a parallel between Mr. Bush and President Lyndon B. Johnson. Johnson, Mr. Kennedy said, "had to basically abdicate the presidency because of Vietnam" in 1968, even though he won the 1964 election. "And this clearly is George Bush's Vietnam, Iraq is," Mr. Kennedy added.

Speaking two weeks before Iraqis go the polls for a first round of voting to develop a constitution and begin putting together a permanent government, Mr. Bush told The Post that he remained optimistic about establishing democracy in Iraq despite the violent insurgency. And he gave no indication that he had had second thoughts about the planning or execution of the war and its aftermath. "Well, we had an accountability moment, and that's called the 2004 election," Mr. Bush said. "And the American people listened to different assessments made about what was taking place in Iraq, and they looked at the two candidates, and they chose me, for which I'm grateful."

Mr. Bush went on to say that, "in times of war, things don't go exactly as planned," and that "on a complicated matter such as removing a dictator from power and trying to help achieve democracy, sometimes the unexpected will happen, both good and bad."

Mr. Bush's stated support for an amendment defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman was a
rallying cry for many social conservatives in the presidential campaign. Along with ballot initiatives in several states barring same-sex marriage, it helped increase turnout among voters who backed him.

In interviews on Sunday on television news programs, Dan Bartlett, Mr. Bush's counselor, said Mr. Bush was referring in The Post interview only to the reality of legislative vote counting and was not suggesting that his support for the amendment had diminished. "What the president was speaking to was some of the legislative realities in the United States Senate," Mr. Bartlett said.

"As you know, it requires 67 votes in the United States Senate for a constitutional amendment to move forward. That's a very high bar. What we learned through the debate last year is that many members of the Senate
believe that the Defense of Marriage Act first must be overturned or challenged before we take the next step of a constitutional amendment."

The president's statement in the interview with The Post, Mr. Bartlett said, "does not change President Bush's view about amendment, the need for an amendment. And he'll continue to push for an amendment." Some of Mr. Bush's conservative allies on Capitol Hill said that they would keep pushing the issue and that they believed the president would be with them.

"I can tell you, I'm not going to break faith with social conservatives, and I know the president won't either," said Senator Rick Santorum, Republican of Pennsylvania, speaking on "Fox News Sunday." "This president has gone out and led on this issue," Mr. Santorum added. "He understands the importance of traditional marriage, that children need mothers and fathers, and we have to have a culture that nurtures and supports that.

And I'm confident the president will go out there, and I don't think one interview is a turning point in his presidency."





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