During a weekend interview with The Washington Post, President Bush seemed to be softening his support for a federal constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, saying that because Congress doesn't fully support it right now, he won't be spending any of the "political capital" he earned in the last election on pushing for the ban. When asked if he would press the Republican-controlled Congress to pass the marriage amendment, which failed in both houses last year, Bush said he still believes the ban is necessary but that the Senate does not. "They believe DOMA [the Defense of Marriage Act] will--is in place, but--they know DOMA is in place, and they're waiting to see whether or not DOMA will withstand a constitutional challenge," he said. "The point is, is that senators have made it clear that so long as DOMA is deemed constitutional, nothing will happen. I'd take their admonition seriously."
After the interview, the Post reported that White House spokesman Scott McClellan telephoned the paper to say the president wanted to clarify his position. McClellan said Bush is "willing to spend political capital" but believes it will be virtually impossible to overcome Senate resistance until the courts render a verdict on the Defense of Marriage Act, which attempts to block gay marriage by federal statute rather than a constitutional amendment.
In an interview with NBC Nightly News on Monday, Bush was again asked about his willingness to pursue a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. "Yes, I'll push for it. Yes, I'm still for it," Bush said in reference to his comments in the Post article. "But I was just telling... I just want people to understand that there's a mentality on the Hill that says, the way things are is fine now."
In response to Bush's comments, the gay political group Log Cabin Republicans expressed hope that Bush would abandon his efforts to pass the amendment and concentrate on other pressing social issues, including Social Security and combating HIV/AIDS. "After a divisive debate in 2004 over the antifamily amendment, Log Cabin looks forward to working with the president and the GOP leadership in the House and Senate on critical issues such as Social Security reform," concluded Log Cabin political director Chris Barron.