President Bush condemned the Massachusetts court ruling on gay marriage on Wednesday, and conservative groups said the White House had informed them that the president would soon endorse efforts to pass an amendment to the United States Constitution defining
marriage to be between a man and a woman.
Mr. Bush, in a statement issued by the White House on Wednesday night, stopped just short of explicitly backing a change to the Constitution, but left little doubt that he is heading in that direction.
The ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court “is deeply troubling,” Mr. Bush said.
“Marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman,” he said. “If activist judges insist on re-defining marriage by court order, the only alternative will be the constitutional process. We must do what is legally necessary to defend the sanctity of marriage.”
Conservative activists who have been in touch with the White House on the issue said they now had no doubt that Mr. Bush had made up his mind to back their call for a constitutional amendment.
“After conversations in recent days with the appropriate people, I have absolutely no doubt the president will in fact take this step in order to ensure that marriage in the United States remains between a man and a woman,” said Gary Bauer, the conservative activist who was a Republican presidential candidate in 2000.
Mr. Bauer, who spent the last two days in meetings with conservative groups to develop a strategy for pushing an amendment, said he expected Mr. Bush to make an announcement “sooner rather than later.”
Glenn T. Stanton, a policy analyst for the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family, said its founder, Dr. James C. Dobson, heard in a conversation on Tuesday night with the president’s senior adviser, Karl Rove, that Mr. Bush had decided to back an amendment.
“We heard last night that President Bush is going to come out very clearly advocating the passage of a federal marriage amendment and he is looking for the opportunity to do that,” Mr. Stanton said on Wednesday. “It is not a question of if but when.”
As the issue has raced through the courts in Massachusetts and other states – and risen to the top of the agenda of conservative groups, thereby becoming a more pressing political issue for him – Mr. Bush has moved step by step since last summer toward supporting a federal constitutional amendment.
White House officials would not confirm that Mr. Bush had made up his mind, but they said they would not discourage
reporters from drawing the conclusion that the Massachusetts ruling was exactly what Mr. Bush was thinking of when he warned in his State of the Union address last month about judges ignoring the will of the people on the issue.
“If judges insist on forcing their arbitrary will upon the people, the only alternative left to the people would be the constitutional process,” Mr. Bush said in the State of the Union speech.
Mr. Bush has tried since becoming governor of Texas to position himself as a new kind of conservative who can appeal to the political center. His statements on gay marriage have always been carefully respectful of gay men and women, and his reluctance to throw his weight behind an amendment reflected in part a desire not to alienate moderate voters.
Many social conservatives, though, have been impatient with the president on the issue, pressing him to take a stand. Mr. Bush’s conservative base is especially important to him in this election year because his political strategists say that his re-election could hinge much more on his ability to turn out the vote among conservative voters than on winning over a diminishing pool of more moderate swing voters.
There have been signs of restlessness among conservatives over Mr. Bush’s willingness in the past few years to support or agree to substantial increases in government spending. The White House is trying to head off that discontent, and the budget Mr. Bush sent to Congress on Monday calls for sharp restraint on federal spending.
But while economic conservatives and the groups that represent them in Washington tend to make their case loudly and forcefully, White House officials have always been more concerned about religious and social conservatives at the grass-roots level. Mr. Rove has fretted publicly on a number of occasions about Mr. Bush’s failure to motivate more evangelical Christians to vote in the 2000 election, saying millions of them stayed home that year.
With the Massachusetts ruling, some conservative leaders said, Mr. Bush and other politicians have little choice politically but to get behind an amendment.
“As of today, there is no gray area at all, no area behind which they can hide,” said Sandra Rios, president of Concerned Women for America, a conservative group.
The constitutional amendment most likely to win the backing of Mr. Bush and conservative groups is one that has already been introduced in Congress. The House version, sponsored by Representative Marilyn Musgrave, Republican of Colorado, states: “Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution or the Constitution of any state, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon
unmarried couples or groups.”
And I don’t think that Kerry is for the job either:
“I oppose gay marriage and disagree with the Massachusetts Court’s decision.”
Great… We’re all dead.
But really what’s the likelyhood of a national amendment to the constitution? I mean really what’s the chances of three forths of the states ratifying an amendment of such. I could see that if there were already more then 3/4 of the states that had something like this. But there aren’t. So I doubt any such things will really pass. But it’s still sad to read about.