Bush backs amendment banning gay marriage
December 18 2003 12:00 AM ET
In a televised interview that aired Tuesday night, President Bush said he could support a U.S. constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. The Massachusetts supreme judicial court last month struck down that state's ban on same-sex marriage, saying it is unconstitutional and giving state lawmakers six months to craft a way for gay couples to wed. Bush has condemned that ruling previously, citing his support for a federal definition of marriage as a solely man-woman union. In his interview with ABC News' Diane Sawyer, he criticized the Massachusetts supreme judicial court as "a very activist court in making the decision it made.... The court, I thought, overreached its bounds as a court. It did the job of the legislature."
Though Bush has previously said he would support whatever is "legally necessary to defend the sanctity of marriage," he and his advisers have shied away from specifically endorsing a constitutional amendment asserting that definition. But in his interview Tuesday the president waded deeper into the topic, saying rulings such as the one in Massachusetts and those in a couple of other states "undermine the sanctity of marriage" and could mean that "we may need a constitutional amendment.... If necessary, I will support a constitutional amendment which would honor marriage between a man and a woman, codify that. The position of this administration is that whatever legal arrangements people want to make, they're allowed to make, so long as it's embraced by the state or at the state level."
Bush said he believes his view on the topic does not make him intolerant. "I do believe in the sanctity of marriage...but I don't see that as a conflict with being a tolerant person or an understanding person," he said. But his remarks drew immediate criticism from gay rights groups. Winnie
Stachelberg, political director of the gay rights group Human Rights Campaign, said, "It is never necessary to insert prejudice and discrimination into the U.S. Constitution, a document that has a proud history of being used to expand an individual's liberty and freedom, not to take them away."