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Declaration of intolerance: president Bush proclaims Marriage Protection Week, bringing the White House closer than ever to endorsing an antigay constitutional amendment.

It was only a White House proclamation, one of dozens issued every year. But to some, it marked the opening salvo in yet another culture war over gay issues as the country heads into an election year. President Bush declared that October 12-18 would be Marriage Protection Week, pledging that "marriage is a sacred institution, and its protection is essential to the continued strength of our society."

The proclamation went on to define marriage as "a union between a man and a woman." Bush has long been on the record opposing same-sex marriage, but the proclamation, which had been sought by a range of antigay groups, brings the president closer than he has ever been to endorsing the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment, which would amend the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriage and government recognition of civil unions or domestic partnerships.

"This is going to be civil war in the Republican Party," said Patrick Guerriero, executive director of the national gay political group Log Cabin Republicans. "We are very disappointed to see Bush catering to the extraordinary hypocrisy of the antimarriage groups, which call themselves pro-family and then go around encouraging discrimination against gay and lesbian families."

Guerriero suggested that Bush, facing an electorate increasingly angered by the sagging economy and frustrated with the protracted conflict in Iraq, may try to use opposition to same-sex marriage to attract voters in the 2004 election. "Early polls indicate that opposition to same-sex marriage could become a wedge issue," he said.

But gay Republican activist Carl Schmid insists that some gay activists are being alarmists. "Although I don't like it, the proclamation could have been worse," he says. "The only bad thing is the mention of marriage as being between a man and a woman and the need to protect it--something that most of the Democratic leaders would proclaim as well."

Schmid pointed out that Bush ended his proclamation by declaring that all Americans should be treated with dignity and respect. But for the president and his antigay supporters, that apparently doesn't include granting gay people equal access to marriage or any legal recognition.
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Title Annotation:Marriage; George W. Bush
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 11, 2003
Words:352
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