Bush renews call for same-sex marriage ban
Gay men, lesbians marry in Massachusetts
From Dana Bash
CNN Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- As same-sex couples began exchanging wedding vows in Massachusetts, President Bush on Monday reiterated his call for a U.S. constitutional amendment banning such marriages.
"The sacred institution of marriage should not be redefined by a few activist judges. All Americans have a right to be heard in this debate," the president said in a written statement.
"I called on the Congress to 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 a woman as husband and wife. The need for that amendment is still urgent, and I repeat that call today."
Bush, a Republican, first publicly endorsed amending the Constitution to ban same-sex marriages on February 24, in part because of the new Massachusetts law allowing gay and lesbian couples to get married in the state.
At that time, Bush said he was acting because of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court's decision granting marriage rights to same-sex couples, and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's decision to begin giving marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.
But the California Supreme Court ordered a halt to the issuance of the marriage licenses while cases about same-sex marriage make their way through the state courts.
Banning same-sex marriage is a top political agenda item for conservatives in the Republican Party. However, while many public opinion polls show Americans oppose gay marriage, they are less enthusiastic about amending the Constitution.
Some conservative Republicans have also expressed reluctance about changing the Constitution, and there is little consensus about specific language for any such amendment. It is unclear when the issue will be brought up on Capitol Hill.
Amending the Constitution requires two-thirds majority vote in both houses of Congress and three-quarters of the states for ratification.
Sen. John Kerry, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, has said he opposes same-sex marriages, but that he also opposes changing the Constitution for any such ban.
"My position is clear and you've heard it many times in the course of this campaign," the four-term senator from Massachusetts said Friday. "I personally believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. I support extending rights to people that are non-discriminatory, that afford rights under the equal protection clause of the Constitution -- meaning civil union or other rights so that you have non-discriminatory status -- but I believe marriage is between a man and a woman."