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Bush announces supportfor marriage amendment

Speaking from the Roosevelt Room of the White House this morning, President Bush announced his support for a constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage in the United States.

Citing “defiance of the law by local officials,” Bush said, “Today I call upon the Congress to promptly pass and to send to the states for ratification an amendment to our Constitution defining and protecting marriage as a union of a man and woman as husband and wife.”

Efforts in Congress to pass an amendment have intensified in the wake of the Massachusetts Supreme Court decision that only full and equal marriage rights for homosexual couples will pass constitutional muster in the state. Under the decision – and barring a constitutional amendment – same-sex weddings will begin in Massachusetts in May.

Bush has been criticized for not taking action against the city of San Francisco, which has issued over 3,000 marriage licenses to homosexual couples in the last week and a half.

“After more than two centuries of American jurisprudence and millennia of human experience, a few judges and local authorities are presuming to change the most fundamental institution of civilization,” he said. “Their actions have created confusion on an issue that requires clarity.

“Our nation must enact a constitutional amendment to protect marriage in America.”

There are two competing amendments in Congress. The less stringent one, the Federal Marriage Amendment, sponsored by Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, R-Colo., defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, but it does not prohibit same-sex civil unions, leaving that issue up to each state.

While not naming the Musgrave amendment, Bush said he supported a provision that would leave states free to set up “legal arrangements other than marriage.”

Referring to the May deadline in Massachusetts, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said earlier today, “We’re two months away. … We need to act now. The constitutional process will take time.”

The constitutional-amendment approval process can be lengthy. Proposals must be OK’d by two-thirds of the House of Representatives, two-thirds of the Senate and obtain ratification by three-quarters of the states.

Said Bush: “The union of man and woman is the most enduring human institution, honored and encouraged in all cultures and by every religious faith. Marriage cannot be severed from its cultural, religious or natural roots without weakening the good influence of society today.”

Read text of Bush’s announcement.

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