President Bush today urged Congress to send to the states a proposed constitutional amendment banning same sex marriages throughout the country.

His proposed amendment would define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

Bush backed said he wants to stop activist judges from changing the definition of the "most enduring human institution." (roll tape#1 o.q."other than marriage")

With the announcement, Bush is wading into a volatile social issue. The conservative wing of his party has been anxious for Bush to follow up his rhetoric on the issue with action. In recent weeks, Bush has repeatedly said he was "troubled" by the Massachusetts court decision and the gay marriages in San Francisco, but stopped short of endorsing a constitutional amendment.

In his speech, the President referenced the passage of the Defense of Marriage Act by Congress and signed by President Bush in 1997, however (roll ape#1 o.q."of national importance")

Before Bush's statement , Press Spokesman Scott McClellan said Bush believes that legislation for such an amendment, submitted by Colorado Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave, "meets his principles" in protecting the "sanctity of marriage" between men and women.

But Bush did not specifically embrace any particular piece of legislation in his announcement. White House officials have said that support for Musgrave's proposed amendment has been unraveling in the Senate. - that legislation is sponsored by Colorado Republican Wayne Allard....

Bush said his decision was prompted by the issuance of more than 3,000 licenses in San Francisco for same-sex marriages since the city began allowing the practice February 13th and by an earlier ruling by the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts declaring that state's ban on same sex marriage a violation of the state constitution. (roll tape#3 o.q."all of which adds to uncertainty")

There are two ways spelled out in the Constitution for amendments. Both have proven extremely difficult to achieve.

The first method is for a bill to pass both houses of Congress by a two-thirds majority in each. Once the bill has passed both houses, it requires the approval of three fourths of the states, either through their legislatures or in conventions. This is the route taken by all current amendments.

The second method is for a Constitutional Convention to be called by two-thirds of the legislatures of the states, and for that convention to propose one or more amendments. These amendments are then sent to the states. This route has never been taken.

Reaction amongst members of the Gay Community is fairly critical of the President.

Brian Winfield is Communications director for the gay rights group Equality Florida. (roll tape#4 o.q. "as a tool of discrimination")

And Winfield says that the Musgrave Amendment would NOT allow for states to support Civil Unions, as is the case in Vermont, for example (roll tape#5 o.q."and it won't start working now")

Matt Staver is President and General Counsel for Liberty Counsel, a national Civil Liberties lawfirm based in Orlando that says it defends religious freedom and the traditional family ......(roll tape#6 o.q. "nationwide")

Miami Activist Bob Kunst led the way fight AGAINST anti gay legislation in Miami-Dade County in the late 1970's. He believes that extraordinary attention being paid to same sex marriage by the media is out of proportion to how important it actually is (roll tape#7o.q."the gay community")

And Kunst believes that same sex couples should be aware that marriage has come to part of an American culture that may not worth becoming part of (roll tape# o.q.adopt?")

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