Seeking to enshrine discrimination into the US Constitution, Bush plans to back
an amendment banning the federal government and the states from enacting any
sort of same-sex unions.
President Bush plans to endorse a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as the union of a man and a woman in response to a Massachusetts court decision requiring legal recognition of gay marriages in that state, key advisers said yesterday [...]
Bush plans to endorse language introduced by Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-Colo.) that backers contend would ban gay marriage but not prevent state legislatures from allowing the kind of civil unions and same-sex partnership arrangements that exist in Vermont and California.
Wait, you say, the WaPo article says that this amendment would not block state legislatures from enacting civil unions! True, that's what the article says. The article is wrong. Here's the proposed amendment.
Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution or the constitution of any State, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.
What are the "legal incindents thereof" of marriage? Things like hospital visitation, inheritance rights, employee benefits, social security and disability benefits, immigration rights, divorce laws, and so on.
What do civil union statutes confer on same-sex partners? Things like hospital visitation, inheritance rights, employee benefits, social security and disability benefits, immigration rights, divorce laws, and so on.
They are the same thing. This proposed amendment, regardless of what Bush or its backers say, would impose a complete ban, at all levels of government, on same-sex marriages. While Bush claims it's necessary to handcuff "activist judges", the amendment would prevent the will of the people -- in the form of state legislatures -- from providing those benefits if they so chose.
As for the public, the latest polling by ABC News/WP shows opponents of gay marriage in the majority, driven almost entirely by those 65 and older:
"Do you think it should be legal or illegal for homosexual couples to get married?"
All 41 55
18-29 55 42
65+ 21 75
Dems 50 46
Indies 47 50
GOoPers 24 72
In the question of civil unions, the margin is much smaller, with opponents holding a narrow 51-46 lead (51-40 in September '03, so we're making progress).