(by Melanie Hunter, CNSNews.com) – It took place inside the White House instead of the Rose Garden, but President Bush Monday announced his support for a federal marriage amendment that would define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

Bush said the proposed amendment “would not take the issue away from states as some have argued.”

Instead, it requires approval by two-thirds of the House and the Senate and then ratification by three-fourths of the 50 state legislatures. “This process guarantees that every state legislature and every community in our nation will have a voice and a say in deciding this issue,” said Bush.

“You come from many backgrounds and faith traditions, yet united in this common belief – marriage is the most fundamental institution of civilization, and it should not be redefined by activist judges,” said Bush, speaking to pro-family groups who were on hand.

“You are here because you strongly support a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as a union of a man and woman, and I am proud to stand with you,” the president said prior to Senate debate on the issue.

“This week, the Senate begins debate on the Marriage Protection Amendment, and I call on the Congress to pass this amendment, send it to the states for ratification so we can take this issue out of the hands of over-reaching judges and put it back where it belongs – in the hands of the American people,” he added.

The president described marriage as “the most enduring and important human institution.”

“For ages, in every culture, human beings have understood that marriage is critical to the well-being of families, and because families pass on values and shape character, marriage is also critical to the health of society,” Bush said.

Congress has already spoken on this issue, the president noted. In 1996, Congress approved the Defense of Marriage Act by “large bipartisan majorities” in the House and Senate. Then President Bill Clinton signed it into law.

Since then, 19 states held referendums on the definition of marriage, voting to amend their state constitutions to protect traditional marriage, Bush said. “In every case, the amendments were approved by decisive majorities with an average of 71 percent,” he added.

“Today, 45 of the 50 states have either a state constitutional amendment or statute defining marriage as a union of a man and a woman. These amendments express a broad consensus in our country of protecting the institution of marriage,” the president said.

Despite this, “activist judges” and local officials struck down such state laws in “an aggressive attempt to redefine marriage,” and state courts in Washington, California, Maryland and New York have ruled against marriage laws since 2004, said Bush. That is why a constitutional marriage amendment is necessary, he said.

If the Defense of Marriage Act is overturned by the courts, same-sex marriages in one state would have to be recognized as marriages in other states.

“That would mean that every state would have to recognize marriage as redefined by judges in say, Massachusetts or local officials in San Francisco, no matter what their own state laws or their state constitutions say,” said Bush.

“This national question requires a national solution, and on an issue of such profound importance, that solution should come, not from the courts, but from the people of the United States,” the president said.

“When judges insist on imposing their arbitrary will on the people, the only alternative left to the people is an amendment to the Constitution – the only law a court cannot overturn,” added Bush.

“It would leave state legislatures free to make their own choices in defining legal arrangements other than marriage. A constitutional amendment is the most democratic process by which our country can resolve this issue,” said the president.

The Senate is expected to vote on the amendment this week.

Debate on federal marriage amendment a waste of time

In a speech on the Senate floor Monday, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) criticized the president for pushing for a federal marriage amendment, saying he has turned his attention away from more pressing issues.

Reid ticked off a laundry list of things Bush should focus on instead, including high gas prices, the war in Iraq, and the national debt, to name a few.

“In Nevada today, gas prices are over $3.00 a gallon. Fill-ups at the tank cause emptiness at the bank. This Administration, the most friendly-to-oil Presidency in our history, refuses to buck Big Oil or the auto manufacturers. Our citizens are literally choking on the lack of alternative fuel,” said Reid.

The Senate Democratic leader described the war in Iraq as “an intractable war,” saying, “Our soldiers are fighting valiantly, but we have Abu Ghraib and Haditha — where 24 or more civilians were allegedly killed by our own — and no policy for winning the peace.”

Despite the conditions in Iraq, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld still has a job and “full backing” from the president, Reid complained. “Not a reprimand, not a suggestion that his Defense Secretary is at fault.”

“We have a national debt that President Bush won’t acknowledge, but our children, their children, and their children’s children will have to acknowledge the generations of debt created by President Bush’s economic policies. Federal red ink as far as one can see,” said Reid.

Add to that “global warming” that Bush has not tried to “reverse,” the lack of health insurance for millions of Americans that the administration has not addressed, the Medicare prescription drug plan that “has been a gift to HMO’s and insurance companies, the rising cost of higher education, crime, the U.S. trade policy, and issue of embryonic stem cell research – all of which Reid claimed Bush has not sufficiently addressed.

“In spite of the many serious problems we have just discussed, what is the United States Senate going to debate this week? A new energy policy? No. Will we debate the raging war in Iraq? No. Will we address our staggering national debt? No. Will we address the seriousness of global warming – No. Will we address the aging of America? No,” Reid said.

“Will we address America’s education dilemma? No. Will we address rising crime statistics? No. Will we debate our country’s trade imbalance? No. Will we debate Stem Cell Research? No,” Reid added.

“But what we will spend most of the week on is a constitutional amendment that will fail by a large margin, a constitutional amendment on Same Sex Marriage – an effort that failed to pick up a simple majority, when we recently voted on it. Remember, an Amendment to our Constitution requires 67 votes,” said Reid.

Reid said he supports traditional marriage and noted that Clinton passed the Defense of Marriage Act, which “creates an exception to the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Constitution so that no state can force its laws of marriage on another.”

Reid questioned the motive behind the president pushing for a federal marriage amendment now, accusing Bush of trying to “divide our society, to pit one against another.”

“This is another one of the President’s efforts to frighten, to distort, to distract, and to confuse America. It is this Administration’s way of avoiding the tough, real problems that American citizens are confronted with each and every day,” said Reid.

Meanwhile, members of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) nationwide have sent postcards to senators, calling on them to vote against the Federal Marriage Amendment.

“Why doesn’t President Bush believe that my daughter should have the same rights as his daughters?” asked Samuel Thoron, PFLAG national president, in a statement.

“Simply because my daughter is a lesbian, the president sees fit to forever deny her full equality and use her — and the millions of other gays and lesbians in the U.S. — as a reason to write discrimination into the Constitution,” said Thoron.

“How dare the President use his position to advocate for such blatant discrimination,” Thoron concluded. “This is a nation of ‘liberty and justice for all’ and it would be refreshing to see the President and many of our legislators begin to embrace that concept and stop undermining real family values.”

Reprinted here with permission from Cybercast News Service. Visit the website at CNSNews.com.

Get Free Answers

Daily “Answers” emails are provided for Daily News Articles, Tuesday’s World Events and Friday’s News Quiz.