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Bush uses Rose
Garden briefing to attack gay rights

Bush uses Rose
Garden briefing to attack gay rights


President Bush on Monday will use the Rose Garden to restate his support for a federal constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage across the country.

Hoping to win back some of the conservative base he has lost in recent months with his mishandling of the war in Iraq, the Hurricane Katrina disaster, and illegal immigration, President Bush and his supporters in Congress are again trotting out the gays and their desire to be married as the most important issue of the day. Only this time, Bush is breaking new ground on Monday by using the Rose Garden, a venue traditionally reserved for important announcements and agreements with foreign leaders, to attack gay rights with his public support for amending the U.S. constitution to ban same-sex marriage forever.

Ahead of the Monday event, Bush used his weekly radio address on Saturday to make his position on the matter clear. ''Ages of experience have taught us that the commitment of a husband and a wife to love and to serve one another promotes the welfare of children and the stability of society,'' Bush said. ''Marriage cannot be cut off from its cultural, religious and natural roots without weakening this good influence on society.''

"This is fundamentally both a civil rights and religious freedom issue, and the president's position of supporting amending the Constitution is just dead wrong," Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, told the Associated Press. "This is simply to give ammunition to the so-called religious right just to show that the president is still with them."

The U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote on the amendment, which would prohibit states from recognizing same-sex marriages, on Tuesday. It stands little chance of passing the 100-member body, where proponents are struggling to get even 50 votes. Several Republicans oppose the measure, and so far only one Democrat, Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, says he will vote for it. To become law, the proposal would need to receive two-thirds support in the Senate and House and then be ratified by at least 38 state legislatures.

According to the AP, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the amendment on May 18 along party lines after a shouting match between Democratic senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin and the chairman, Republican senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania. Specter bid Feingold "good riddance" after Feingold declared his opposition to the amendment and his intention to leave the meeting.

A recent poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that barely over 50% of Americans oppose same-sex marriage, but it also showed that attitudes are changing: 63% opposed same-sex marriage in February 2004.

Opponents of the amendment say Bush is using gays as a political tool to help the Republican Party maintain control of Congress this November. Numerous political pundits say Bush benefited by supporting the amendment in 2004 as religious conservatives turned out to vote and helped him win a second term. Bush has said little about it since then. White House spokesman Ken Lisaius only said, "The president firmly believes that marriage is an enduring and sacred institution between men and women and has supported measures to protect the sanctity of marriage."

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