U.S. President George W. Bush said on Monday that he supports a proposed amendment to the country's Constitution against gay marriage, saying that the amendment "would fully protect marriage from being redefined."
"Marriage is the most fundamental institution of civilization, and it should not be redefined by activist judges," Bush said in a speech at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.
The U.S. Senate would begin debate on the Marriage Protection Amendment this year, and the president called on the Congress to pass the amendment, which he said "defines marriage as a union of a man and a woman."
Bush said the union of a man and woman in marriage was the most enduring and important human institution, marriage was critical to the well-being of families and was also critical to the health of society.
The consensus for protecting the institution of marriage was being undermined by activist judges and local officials who have struck down state laws protecting marriage and made an aggressive attempt to redefine marriage, Bush said.
State courts in Washington, California, Maryland and New York since 2004 have ruled against marriage laws, and last year, a federal judge in Nebraska overturned a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, an amendment that was approved by 70 percent of the population, he said.
And at this moment, nine states faced lawsuits challenging the marriage laws.
An amendment to the Constitution "is necessary because activist courts have left our nation with no other choice," said the president.
The U.S. Congress approved the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, and since then, 19 states have held referendums to amend their state constitutions to protect the traditional definition of marriage.
To date, 45 of the country's 50 states have either a state constitutional amendment or statute defining marriage as a union of a man and a woman, according to the president.
Even with Bush's support, the draft amendment had only a slim chance to get approved at the Senate.
All but one of the 44 Senate Democrats were opposed to measure on same-sex marriage, and with moderate Republicans, they could easily block an up-or-down vote at the Senate. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, a Republican, has said he would vote against the amendment on the floor.
An amendment must be approved by two-thirds of the House and the Senate, and then ratified by three-fourths of the 50 state legislatures.