Originally published on Advocate.com January 21 2004 1:00 AM ET
President Bush is expected to take up the controversial issue of same-sex marriage in his State of the Union address Tuesday night, reaffirming his position that marriage should be the union of a man and a woman, but he'll stop short of endorsing a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, Administration officials told The Washington Post. The inclusion of marriage as a topic in the address is aimed at pleasing his far-right supporters, who have become increasingly vocal about their dismay over the rising level of federal spending. Some of them reacted furiously to his plan for a moon landing and Mars exploration, which Bush is not expected to mention tonight, the Post reports.
The speech, to be delivered at 9 p.m. Eastern time from the U.S. Capitol to a television audience of 60 million or more, is Bush's most important scheduled platform between now and his acceptance speech at the Republican Party convention in early September. So Republican officials see it as an unofficial curtain raiser on his reelection campaign. A senior Administration official said Bush will strike an "educational" tone about marriage and will not move beyond his previous statement that he would support an amendment to enshrine that definition in the U.S. Constitution if actions by courts or state legislatures make it necessary. Republicans say Bush is prepared to endorse such a constitutional amendment--and some top advisers are eager for him to do so--but officials said he will not do so in the immediate future.
One official said that Bush will talk about "the issue of marriage" in the context of families and schools and other "institutions that are important in our society and reflect the character and strength of our country." Those remarks, which aides said have been in the speech since the first draft, will follow a
discussion of changes that are going on in the world and in the country--in foreign affairs, security, the economy, and health care. "The president believes that some of those changes in the big areas are a
change for the better: We're becoming a more peaceful and secure world, and we're becoming a more prosperous country," the official told the Post. "But there are some things in our society and in our country that don't change and need to remain strong. He'll be talking about families and about schools and about faith-based institutions."