The White House stopped short Tuesday of endorsing an amendment to the Constitution banning same-sex marriages, but President Bush said he believes marriage is a union between a man and a woman. Senate majority leader Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican and a close Bush ally in Congress, said on Sunday that he "absolutely" supports a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as being between a man and a woman. He made his statement after the Supreme Court struck down state sodomy laws last week.
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said Bush had not discussed the issue with Frist but that the president backed the Defense of Marriage Act. "The president believes that marriage is an institution between a man and a woman," Fleischer told reporters. "We have a law on the books right now that...passed with massive, overwhelming bipartisan majorities in 1996. The president supports that legislation, and that's where he stands right now." U.S. law defines marriage for federal purposes as between one woman and one man. Marriages between couples of the same sex are forbidden in the United States.
Debate over the issue has intensified since Canada announced earlier this month that it would legalize same-sex marriages. The U.S. high court struck down state sodomy laws last Thursday, a decision that conservative critics say could open the door to equal marriage rights in the United States.