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Bush would back constitutional ban on same-sex marriage

Bush, criticizing the Massachusetts court, says it overstepped its bounds in overturning a ban on same-sex marriages.
Bush, criticizing the Massachusetts court, says it overstepped its bounds in overturning a ban on same-sex marriages.

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Plaintiffs' attorney Mary Bonauto praises the Massachusetts court ruling that found a ban on same-sex marriages unconstitutional. (November 18)
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Civil Rights
George W. Bush
Justice and Rights

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- While calling for tolerance, President Bush said Tuesday he would support a constitutional amendment, if one is needed, that defines marriage as being between a man and woman.

"If necessary, I will support a constitutional amendment which would honor marriage between a man and a woman, codify that," Bush told ABC's Diane Sawyer.

The president -- in an apparent nod to some recognition of gay civil unions -- also said it would be the position of his administration that "whatever legal arrangements people want to make, they're allowed to make, so long as it's embraced by the state."

Overturning the state's ban on same-sex marriages, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in November cleared the way for lesbian and gay couples in the state to wed, ruling that government attorneys "failed to identify any constitutionally adequate reason" to deny them the right.

The court gave state lawmakers six months to craft a way for gay couples to marry.

The president criticized the court, saying it had overstepped its bounds.

"It was a very activist court in making the decision it made," Bush said. "As you know, I'm a person who believes in judicial restraint, as opposed to judicial activism that takes the place of the Legislative Branch."

Bush said a constitutional amendment will be needed if "judicial rulings undermine the sanctity of marriage."

In October, Bush said administration lawyers were looking for some way to legally limit marriage to heterosexuals.

Asked by Sawyer if gays were sinners, Bush responded: "We're all sinners. We're all sinners."

"No distinction?" she queried.

"I think we're all sinners. One of my favorite Bible verses says, 'Why would I take a speck out of your eye when I have a log in my own?' And having said that, however, I do believe in the sanctity of marriage. But I don't see that as conflict with being a tolerant person or an understanding person."

Bush counts many conservative Christians and Christian groups among his supporters.

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