WASHINGTON, June 5 LAWFUEL – Press Release Service — The follow…

WASHINGTON, June 5 LAWFUEL – Press Release Service — The following are remarks by
President Bush on the Marriage Protection Amendment:
Presidential Hall
Eisenhower Executive Office Building

1:48 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Please be seated. Good afternoon, and
welcome to the White House. It is a pleasure to be with so many fine
community leaders, scholars, family organizations, religious leaders,
Republicans, Democrats, independents. Thank you all for coming.
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.
(Applause.) You are here because you strongly support a constitutional
amendment that defines marriage as a union of a man and a woman, and I am
proud to stand with you. (Applause.)
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. (Applause.)
The union of a man and woman in marriage is 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 along values and shape character, marriage is also
critical to the health of society. Our policies should aim to strengthen
families, not undermine them. And changing the definition of marriage would
undermine the family structure.
America is a free society which limits the role of government in the
lives of our citizens. In this country, people are free to choose how they
live their lives. In our free society, decisions about a fundamental social
institution as marriage should be made by the people. (Applause.)
The American people have spoken clearly on this issue through their
elected representatives and at the ballot box. In 1996, Congress approved
the Defense of Marriage Act by large bipartisan majorities in both the
House and the Senate, and President Clinton signed it into law. And since
then, 19 states have held referendums to amend their state constitutions to
protect the traditional definition of marriage. In every case, the
amendments were approved by decisive majorities with an average of 71
percent. (Applause.)
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 and laws express a broad consensus in our country for protecting
the institution of marriage. The people have spoken. Unfortunately, this
consensus is being undermined by activist judges and local officials who
have struck down state laws protecting marriage and made an aggressive
attempt to redefine marriage.
Since 2004, state courts in Washington and California and Maryland and
New York have ruled against marriage laws. 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.
And at this moment, nine states face lawsuits challenging the marriage laws
they have on the books.
Some argue that defining marriage should be left to the states. The
fact is, state legislatures are trying to address this issue. (Applause.)
But across the country, they are being thwarted by activist judges who are
overturning the expressed will of their people. And these court decisions
can have an impact on our whole nation.
The Defense of Marriage Act declares that no state is required to
accept another state’s definition of marriage. If that act is overturned by
the courts, then marriage recognized in one city or state may have to be
recognized as marriages everywhere else. 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.
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. (Applause.) An amendment to the
Constitution is necessary because activist courts have left our nation with
no other choice. 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.
The constitutional amendment that the Senate will consider this week
would fully protect marriage from being redefined. It will 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. In their wisdom, our
founders set a high bar for amending the Constitution. 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. This process guarantees that
every state legislature and every community in our nation will have a voice
and a say in deciding this issue. (Applause.)
A constitutional amendment would not take this issue away from the
states, as some have argued. It would take the issue away from the courts
and put it directly before the American people. (Applause.)
As this debate goes forward, every American deserves to be treated with
tolerance and respect and dignity. (Applause.) On an issue of this great
significance, opinions are strong and emotions run deep. And all of us have
a duty to conduct this discussion with civility and decency toward one
another. All people deserve to have their voices heard and a constitutional
amendment will ensure that they are heard. (Applause.)
I appreciate you taking an interest in this fundamental issue. It’s an
important issue for our country to debate and to resolve. And the best way
to resolve this issue is through a constitutional amendment, which I
strongly support. God bless.

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