Bush Backs Federal Marriage Amendment
By DEB RIECHMANN, AP
WASHINGTON (June 3) - President Bush on Saturday backed a resolution to amend the Constitution to define marriage
as a union between a man and a woman even though the idea has little chance of being passed in the Senate.
"Ages of experience have taught us that the commitment of a husband and a wife to love and to serve one another
promotes the welfare of children and the stability of society," Bush said in his Saturday radio address. "Marriage
cannot be cut off from its cultural, religious and natural roots without weakening this good influence on society."
Democrats say Senate floor time is being wasted on the issue, and accuse Republicans of making a pre-midterm election
appeal to social conservatives whose votes were key to Bush's re-election.
This November, initiatives banning same-sex marriages are expected to be on the ballot in Idaho, South Carolina,
South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin.
"Sadly, President Bush is playing election-year politics with this divisive issue," the Rev. Barry W.
Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said Friday. "He is shamelessly
using this ploy to energize his right-wing base. We should never rewrite the Constitution to enshrine intolerance."
The White House said Bush did not devote his radio address to the issue or decide to host a presidential event
Monday to again endorse the amendment because it is politically expedient, but because there's a vote on it scheduled
next week in the Senate.
"On Monday, I will meet with a coalition of community leaders, constitutional scholars, family and civic organizations
and religious leaders," Bush said in urging Congress to pass the amendment and send it to the states for ratification.
"They're Republicans, Democrats and independents who've come together to support this amendment."
The amendment would prohibit states from recognizing same-sex marriages. To become law, the proposal would need
two-thirds support in the Senate and House, and then would have to be ratified by at least 38 state legislatures.
Bush said the amendment would fully protect marriage from being redefined, while leaving state legislatures free
to make their own choices in defining legal arrangements other than marriage.
It stands little chance of passing the 100-member Senate, where proponents are struggling to get even 50 votes.
Several Republicans oppose the measure, and so far only one Democrat - Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska - has said he
will vote for it.
Acknowledging that emotions often run hot in this debate, Bush urged calm.
"As this debate goes forward, we must remember that every American deserves to be treated with tolerance,
respect and dignity," he said. "All of us have a duty to conduct this discussion with civility and decency
toward one another, and all people deserve to have their voices heard."
David Buckel, Marriage Project director of Lambda Legal, a national organization working to protect the rights
of lesbians, gay men and others, said the amendment would be damaging to the lives of same-sex couples and families,
which raise millions of children.
"It would brand lesbian and gay men as legally inferior individuals," he said. "It would write into
the supreme law of the land that this group of people are inferior and when it's the law, it's a message to everyone
else in society that they have license to discriminate."
In his radio address, Bush struck back at judges who have overturned state laws similar in intent to the proposed
"Unfortunately, activist judges and some local officials have made an aggressive attempt to redefine marriage
in recent years," the president said.
Bush said there is broad consensus in America to protect the institution of marriage.
Voters in 19 states have approved amendments to their state constitutions that protect the traditional definition
of marriage, he said. Moreover, he said, 45 of the 50 states have either a state constitutional amendment or statute
defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman.
06/03/06 10:14 EDT