Pro-family leaders urged President George W. Bush to recalibrate his position on the federal marriage amendment on Monday, in light of the Presidents remarks to the Washington Post that he will not aggressively lobby senators to pass an amendment outlawing same-sex marriages in all 50 states.
"After traveling the nation for a year campaigning for reelection, the president heard a resounding message from the American people - they want marriage protected. Incorporating the theme into his campaign, those who traveled with the president said the protection of marriage garnered one of the most enthusiastic responses from the crowds he addressed," said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.
President Bush on Sunday told the Washington Post that while he believes it is necessary to have a constitutional amendment to protect marriage, pursuing it in the US Senate would be futile. His reasoning was that many senators believe the Defense of Marriage Act, a law that already prevents states from recognizing gay marriages enacting in other states, is sufficient.
"The point is, is that Senators have made it clear that so long as DOMA is deemed constitutional, nothing will happen. I'd take that admonition seriously," Bush told the Post.
Perkins, in a January 17 statement, explained that the DOMA is not nearly enough to protect the sacred institution of marriage.
"Let's be clear. Both here and abroad, the judicial assault on man-woman marriage is well underway. Liberal activist judges have no compunction about abrogating laws passed on this issue by 70 percent majorities. No serious constitutional scholar believes that this assault will be deflected by legislative and executive passivity, said Perkins.
For our nation's leaders to be advocating that we wait for the Defense of Marriage Act to be struck down by the courts before they act to protect marriage is like a fire chief telling a local hotel to wait until there is a fire to install a sprinkler system, he added.
Meanwhile, the pro-gay supporters of Bush applauded his comments, saying they hope Bushs second term will concentrate on other reforms.
[We are] hopeful that the president's comments recognizing the lack of support for the anti-family Federal Marriage Amendment will result in a second-term agenda that can concentrate on much-needed reform, said Patrick Guerriero, the president of Log Cabin Republicans, the nations largest gay republican group.
However, Perkins disagreed.
Pointing out that while social reforms and other initiatives are important, Perkins explained that the protection of marriage was the number one issue that helped determine Bushs re-election.
While Social Security and tort reform are important initiatives, there was far less outcry for reform of these laws from the American public. No doubt there are many in the Senate, even within the president's own party who oppose such policy initiatives; however, there is no evidence such indifference or opposition is deterring the president from including them in his second term agenda. He should have at least the same resolve if not more to protect the institution of marriage," Perkins explained.
"Freshly equipped with the demands of the American people, the president should lead the United States Senate in moving ahead to check the pending judicial assault on marriage, said Perkins. Leadership is needed now to protect the institution of marriage and our children and their future.
According to the New York Times, Dan Bartlett, President Bushs counselor, aware that Bushs comments may have hit the wrong note among evangelical leaders, attempted to amend the Presidents comments.
"What the president was speaking to was some of the legislative realities in the United States Senate," Mr. Bartlett was quoted as saying on a Sunday television news program.. "As you know, it requires 67 votes in the United States Senate for a constitutional amendment to move forward. That's a very high bar. What we learned through the debate last year is that many members of the Senate believe that the Defense of Marriage Act first must be overturned or challenged before we take the next step of a constitutional amendment."
Bartlett added that the presidents statement does not change President Bush's view about amendment, the need for an amendment. And he'll continue to push for an amendment."
Senator Rick Santorum, Republican from Pennsylvania and avid supporter of the FMA, agreed, saying he believes that one interview does not change the heart of the presidency.
"I can tell you, I'm not going to break faith with social conservatives, and I know the president won't either," said Senator Santorum on Fox News.
"This president has gone out and led on this issue," Mr. Santorum added. "He understands the importance of traditional marriage, that children need mothers and fathers, and we have to have a culture that nurtures and supports that. And I'm confident the president will go out there, and I don't think one interview is a turning point in his presidency.