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Archive for Monday, January 17, 2005

Bush won’t press for revival of amendment on same-sex marriage

January 17, 2005

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— Despite his call last year for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, President Bush is not going to lobby the Senate to revive it, a top adviser confirmed Sunday.

Although Bush believes that an amendment is necessary, White House counselor Dan Bartlett said, "legislative realities" work against passage.

"It requires 67 votes in the United States Senate for a constitutional amendment to move forward. That's a very high bar," he told CNN's "Late Edition."

In an interview published in Sunday's Washington Post, Bush said that unless the federal Defense of Marriage Act was ruled unconstitutional, he would not push the Senate to back the proposed amendment. Most senators believe the act passes constitutional muster, he added.

"Senators have made it clear that so long as DOMA is deemed constitutional, nothing will happen," Bush told The Post.

The Defense of Marriage Act, which President Clinton signed in 1996, defines marriage as solely between a man and a woman. It also says that no state is required to honor a same-sex marriage approved by another state -- a provision that could end up before the Supreme Court as a possible violation of the Constitution's clause that a state give "full faith and credit" to the rulings of another state.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled last year that same-sex couples could not be denied the right to marry. That raised fears that such marriages in Massachusetts would have to be honored elsewhere.

A constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman is a priority of social conservatives, and Bush's support for the issue last year was among the factors that energized them to vote in record numbers in November.

In appearances on three news shows, Bartlett attempted to heal any potential breach with conservatives by emphasizing the difficulty of getting an amendment passed.

"What (Bush) was speaking to in that specific interview was the vote-counting in the United States Senate," Bartlett said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

Last summer, the Senate failed by a significant margin to even bring the amendment up for a vote. Republicans now hold 55 seats in the Senate, 12 short of the number needed to approve an amendment.

The lack of a legislative majority "doesn't mean he's not willing to spend political capital," Bartlett said on "Fox News Sunday." "He is. He will. And he'll continue to talk about why he thinks it's important that we have an amendment."

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