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President Calls for Amendment to Ban Gay Marriage

President Bush said Monday he was proud to back the supporters of a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage. Political analysts consider the Republican drive to adopt the amendment and the possible role it may play in mid-term elections.

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  • GWEN IFILL, NewsHour Correspondent:

    Over the weekend and again today, President Bush turned the nation's attention to an issue that energizes many social conservatives: using the Constitution to ban same sex marriage.

    GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States: You are here because you strongly support a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman. And I am proud to stand with you.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    During his re-election campaign, the president pledged to push for such an amendment, a promise some of his supporters say he has made little effort to keep.

    Today, Mr. bush said activist judges are undermining the will of the people in states that have acted on the issue.

  • GEORGE W. BUSH:

    Decisions about a fundamental social institution as marriage should be made by the people.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    White House officials said that the president is speaking up now because the Senate is launching its own marriage debate.

    SEN. SAM BROWNBACK (R), Kansas: It's about who is going to define marriage in America. It's not whether marriage is going to be defined, it's about who is going to define marriage in America.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    The amendment, which would require a two-thirds vote of the Senate and House and ratification by the states, would bar judges from granting same-sex couples the same legal rights as married couples, and it would define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

    Today, advocates and opponents of the amendment held dueling protests and press conferences.

  • MATT DANIELS, AllianceĀ for Marriage:

    Americans are committed to seeing our laws send a positive message about marriage to children, to their children and grandchildren.

    They believe it's common sense that marriage is a man and woman and they want that reinforced under our laws.

    But as we stand here today, courts in nine states are actively seeking to strike down our marriage laws. Some of these court cases in New Jersey, New York and Washington state, are poised to lead to the end of marriage as we have known it in this country for hundreds of years.

  • LAWANA SLACK-MAYFIELD, Human Rights Campaign:

    And if you open a door to putting discrimination against gay people in the Constitution, what's to say we won't discriminate against another group down the line? Who will be next? Women? African-Americans?

    This amendment is a cynical political ploy, and we won't be bamboozled or lose focus on what's truly important.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    The Senate has scheduled a vote on the amendment for Wednesday.