President Bush calls for an amendment banning gay marriage, saying marriage, as traditionally defined, "is the most fundamental institution of civilization." The president says he favors a constitutional amendment under Senate debate that would ban gay and lesbian couples from being married.
Marriage, the president said, "should not be redefined by activist judges." President Bush said the courts have forced him to take on the issue, as he believes states should decide which couples should be allowed to be married.
The amendment is scheduled to receive two days of debate in the Senate, where its chance of passage is considered slim at best.
As the discussion opened Monday, Democratic Leader Harry Reid questioned the need for the bill — or the debate. Citing the issues of energy policy, the war in Iraq and the national debt, Reid called the move a Republican election-year ploy.
The gay-marriage ban, said Reid, "is this administration's way of avoiding the tough, real problems that American citizens are confronted with each and every day." Reid said he agrees with the president that marriage should be between a man and a woman. But he also said the issue should not require a constitutional amendment.