Bush: Constitutional ban on gay marriage not necessary - yet
July 3, 2003
WASHINGTON, D.C. - President George W. Bush said Wednesday that a constitutional ban on gay marriage in the United States that has been proposed in the House might not be needed, despite a Supreme Court decision that some conservatives think opens the door to legalizing same-sex marriages.
"Let's let the lawyers look at the full ramifications of the recent Supreme Court hearing," Bush said. "What I do support is a notion that marriage is between a man and a woman."
Bush's words were aimed at calming members of the Republicans' right wing who are upset about the recent Supreme Court decision, said Patrick Guerriero, director of the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay advocacy group. "I think what you're seeing is a momentary time-out from the radical right's temper tantrum," he said.
The Supreme Court on June 26 struck down a Texas law that made homosexual sex a crime, overturning an earlier ruling that said states could punish homosexuals for having sex.
Conservative Justice Antonin Scalia fired off a blistering dissent of the ruling.
The "opinion dismantles the structure of constitutional law that has permitted a distinction to be made between heterosexual and homosexual unions, insofar as formal recognition in marriage is concerned," Scalia wrote. The ruling specifically said the court was not addressing that issue, but Scalia warned, "Do not believe it."
The Supreme Court's decision was a broad ruling addressing privacy, and gay rights groups are saying they will use it to push for more legal rights.
"We have a powerful new weapon in our legal battles on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people, but the impact of this ruling also stretches well beyond the walls of our nation's
courtrooms," Kevin Cathcart, director of New York-based Lambda Legal, a gay rights advocacy group, said Wednesday.
Legal authorities are also combing the decision to see what impact it will have on other gay rights issues.
"I don't know that there is any clear assessment - that anybody has at this point - about the legal ramifications of a just-made decision," White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said.
During a news conference, Bush was asked about whether he supported a federal constitutional amendment that would define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, a Republican, was the main sponsor of the proposal offered May 21 to amend the Constitution. To be added to the Constitution, the proposal must be approved by two-thirds of the House and the Senate and ratified by three-fourths of the states.