Top Stories of 2004: Bush Backs Federal Marriage Amendment, Calls on Congress to Act 'Promptly'
by Jody Brown
December 22, 2004
(AgapePress) - In clear and concise terms, President Bush has made his position clear. This morning, during a speech at the White House, the president called on Congress to "promptly" pass legislation calling for a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. The amendment would then need to be ratified by at least 38 of the 50 states.
Speaking to a national television audience, George W. Bush -- who heretofore in this election year appeared hesitant to become entangled in the controversial issue of homosexual "marriage" -- said a federal marriage amendment is the "one recourse" left for the American people to "prevent the meaning of marriage from being changed forever."
Thirty-eight states already have a Defense of Marriage Act on the books -- among them California, where the mayor of San Francisco openly defied state law almost two weeks ago and ordered county officials to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The president cited those actions by Mayor Gavin Newsom, and a similar but brief action by one county in New Mexico, as reasons why a federal marriage amendment is needed.
The president stated that the America people -- by virtue of the number of states now with a DOMA -- overwhelmingly support the traditional concept of marriage. But "activist courts" and the actions in San Francisco and New Mexico are going against that definition, he said.
While calling for a marriage amendment at the national level, Bush also said that state legislatures should be free to "make their own choice in defining legal arrangements other than marriage."
Read the president's speech in its entirety
Earlier on Tuesday, White House press secretary Scott McClellan said the president would be announcing his support for a constitutional amendment barring homosexual marriage. McClellan stated that the president wanted to end "growing confusion" that has arisen as a result of events in California and court decisions in Massachusetts.
"The president believes it is important to have clarity," McClellan said.
Dr. Don Wildmon
Pro-family groups, many of whom have actively sought the president's endorsement of a federal marriage amendment, are applauding the chief executive's courageous stand in defense of traditional marriage. Dr. Don Wildmon, chairman of the American Family Association, is among those.
"Amending the Constitution is something not to be taken lightly, nor does it come easily," Wildmon says. "The president understands renegade judges and mayors are taking the law into their own hands, against the will of the people." According to Wildmon, more than one-million people have signed a petition in support of traditional marriage at the AFA-sponsored website NoGayMarriage.com.Rev. Louis Sheldon of Traditional Values Coalition says the president's endorsement of the Federal Marriage Amendment "comes right in the nick of time" to save the nation's most important institution.
"Judges in Massachusetts and the mayor of San Francisco are conspiring against the law," Sheldon says. "It is good to hear the clear, sound reasoning of President Bush above the wave of deception in the courts."
Sheldon fully expects the "well-financed and powerful homosexual lobby" to undermine any attempts to ratify a marriage protection amendment -- but he expects Bush's stand to carry a lot of weight.
"Call it same-sex marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnership, it is all part of a carefully calculated campaign to provide the appearance of normalcy to homosexual behavior," he says. "It will be unmasked and defeated -- and President Bush's leadership on this issue will make the difference."
But the American Civil Liberties Union says amendment-related legislation currently making its way through Congress is at odds with basic principles of federalism and state authority. ACLU executive director Anthony Romero -- the first openly homosexual man to head up the organization -- says the president's endorsement of "this mean-spirited amendment" shows that he is neither compassionate nor concerned with the rights of Americans.
"Amending the constitution to deny [homosexuals] the same rights we all take for granted just isn't very American," Romero says.
Another ACLU spokesman describes the federal marriage amendment as the "nuclear bomb of anti-gay attacks, forever wiping out most of the protections for same-sex couples."
But Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council doesn't see it that way. The FRC president says nothing short of a constitutional amendment will protect the institution of marriage from what he calls an "out of control judiciary."
"The president was right on target when he said activist courts have left the American people no other recourse," Perkins says, adding that Massachusetts was the "starting gun for the marathon" to protect the traditional definition of marriage. "The president was right to say enough is enough."
Perkins and other pro-family leaders are hopeful a Federal Marriage Amendment will move swiftly through both houses of Congress. "Just as the president used the weight of his office to secure drug benefits for seniors and tax cuts for families, we fully expect him to use his influence to preserve the institution of marriage for the future of our country," Perkins says.