Bush Backs Constitutional Amendment Banning Gay Marriage

President Bush announced this morning that he supports a Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. “Today, I call upon the Congress to promptly pass and to send to the states for ratification an amendment to the Constitution defining and protecting marriage as a union of a man and a woman as husband and wife,” Bush said in a press conference.

President Bush based his support of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage at least partly on religion. “The union of a man and woman is the most enduring human institution, honored and celebrated in all cultures and by every religious faith,” he said. “Marriage cannot be severed from its cultural, religious, and natural roots without weakening the good influence of society.”

Bush said that the amendment should “fully protect marriage, while leaving the state legislatures free to make their own choices in defining legal arrangements other than marriage.” However, lesbian and gay rights activists argue that civil unions still leave a broad range of rights inaccessible to same-sex couples. For example, “Couples in a civil union have no access to the federal laws like Family and Medical Leave Act, to equal immigration rights, to continued health care coverage. Under federal law, same-sex couples are strangers,” said Cheryl Jacques, executive director of Human Rights Campaign, in a press statement. “Even if civil unions provided all the same legal protections of marriage – which they don’t – they would still be a separate and unequal system.”

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Washington Post transcript 2/24/04; HRC release 2/20/04

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