In Defense of Marriage--President
Bush Makes the Case
by Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr.
February 26, 2004
. . . he did it. On Tuesday, President George W. Bush called for
an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would defend marriage
as a union of a man and a woman. Ending weeks of expectation, the
President put his case before the American people and called upon
Congress to act swiftly, sending the proposed amendment to the states
In making his case, the President cited "an
overwhelming consensus in our country for protecting the institution
The President's public announcement was prompted
by events in San Francisco, where Mayor Gavin Newsom is defying
California law by granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Over 3,000 homosexual couples have been "married" in San
Francisco, and the courts have thus far refused to intervene. Similar
acts of civil disobedience have taken place in New Mexico, and Mayor
Richard Daley of Chicago has announced his support for homosexuals
desiring to marry. The background also includes the unprecedented
decision handed down by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
in November, instructing the state's legislature to legalize homosexual
marriages by May.
"In recent months . . . some activist judges
and local officials have made an aggressive attempt to redefine
marriage," the President explained. "And unless action
is taken, we can expect more arbitrary court decisions, more litigation,
more defiance of the law by local officials, all of which adds to
The President began his speech by citing the Defense
of Marriage Act passed by Congress by an overwhelming margin and
signed into law by President Clinton in 1996. He pledged that his
administration would "vigorously defend this act of Congress."
The administration had better be ready to do just that. As the President
explained, "there is no assurance that the Defense of Marriage
Act will not, itself, be struck down by activist courts." Furthermore,
the Defense of Marriage Act does not prevent state or local governments
from redefining marriage, even if upheld.
President Bush conceded that the constitutional
amendment process is not to be undertaken lightly. Nevertheless,
"The amendment process has addressed many serious matters of
national concern. And the preservation of marriage rises to this
level of national importance."
The response to the President's speech was vitriolic
and fully predictable. Massachusetts Senator John F. Kerry, the
front-runner for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination,
accused the President of using the marriage proposal as "a
wedge issue to divide the American people." Kerry, one of only
14 senators to vote against the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996,
claims to support civil unions for homosexuals while saying that
he opposes gay marriage. Of course, Kerry does not "oppose"
gay marriage in any meaningful sense, for he simply calls for the
matter to be left to the states. His position is an evasion posing
Senator Edward M. Kennedy, also of Massachusetts,
said: "This nation has made too much progress in the ongoing
battle for civil rights to take such an unjustified step backwards
now." Representative Jerrold Nadler, the ranking Democrat on
the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution accused the
President of "trying to write discrimination into the Constitution,
for the first time amending our sacred document to deny civil rights
to a large number of Americans." The President's support for
a constitutional amendment to defend marriage is "shameful,"
The statements by Nadler, Kennedy, and Kerry indicate
the direction the Democrats will take in opposing the Federal Marriage
Amendment. Nadler's statement implies that the Constitutional presumable
grants homosexuals a "right" to marry-- a "right"
no one seems to have found until just now. The rhetoric of the Left
will label the marriage amendment as a form of discrimination that
"takes away" individual rights and is a step backwards
in the nation's unceasing march toward total personal liberation.
The nation's editorial writers piled on the President.
The Washington Post accused the President of "debasing the
Constitution," arguing that since the Defense of Marriage Act
has not [yet] been struck down by the courts, calls for a constitutional
amendment are "reckless." This is a dishonest argument,
of course, for the paper endorses gay marriage and does not support
the Defense of Marriage Act [DOMA] in the first place. The Left
knows full well that once the DOMA is struck down, gay marriage
will be a reality, and the horse will have, proverbially speaking,
left the barn.
The New York Times asserted that the proposed amendment
would "inject meanspiritedness and exclusion into the document
embodying our highest principles and aspirations," and argued
that the President "proposes to radically rewrite the Constitution."
The President, the Times opined, "tried to
create a sense of crisis" in his speech defending marriage.
Tried to create a crisis? The Times has been out of touch with mainstream
Americans for a long time now, but this defies all logic and common
sense. Mayor Newsom of San Francisco is handing out marriage licenses
to gay couples and holding public wedding receptions. Courts all
around the nation are poised to destroy civilization's most fundamental
institution, and legislators dither while marriage burns. And President
Bush is guilty of creating a sense of crisis?
Mayor Newsom, whose fifteen minutes of fame should
have expired by now, excoriated the President. His Imperial Mayoralty
stated: "I took the same oath of office that [President Bush]
took to bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution,"
he said. "The president has chosen to say, 'I bear true faith
and allegiance--subject to a change that I want to make.'"
This is yet another rant from the Mayor Who Would Be King, and his
logic would require that no president could ever support any amendment
to the Constitution.
Some pro-family leaders had criticized the President
for inaction on this issue until Tuesday, and the President's announcement
caught many off-guard. President Bush has put his administration
and his political future on the line by assuming leadership in the
battle to defend marriage. This will not be an easy fight, and the
pro-homosexual forces have the advantages of media support and cultural
momentum. Nevertheless, this is the battle call we are now summoned
to answer, and President Bush has taken leadership as the general
in this effort. The real question now is whether a massive army
will join him in this effort. This is no time for cowardice.