WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush and congressional Republicans are aiming the political spotlight this week on efforts to ban gay marriage, with events at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.
"Ages of experience have taught us that the commitment of a husband and wife to love and to serve one another promotes the welfare of children and the stability of society," Bush said in his Saturday radio address. "Government, by recognizing and protecting marriage, serves the interests of all."
The president was to make further remarks Monday in favor of the amendment as the Senate opened three days of debate.
All but one of the Senate Democrats — the exception is Ben Nelson of Nebraska — oppose the measure.
Democrats say the amendment is a divisive bow to religious conservatives, and point out that it conflicts with the GOP's opposition to big government interference.
"A vote for this amendment is a vote for bigotry pure and simple," said Democratic Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, where the state Supreme Court legalized gay marriages in 2003.
The House also is expected to take up the measure this year.
Fueled by election-year politics, the gay marriage issue is the most volatile Congress will consider as it returns from a weeklong Memorial Day recess.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a possible presidential candidate in 2008, promptly placed the amendment on the floor schedule, with Bush's promotion central to the plan.
In his Saturday radio address, Bush cast the amendment as a defense of the stability of society and a strike back at judges who have overturned state laws similar in intent to the proposed legislation.
"In our free society, people have the right to choose how they live their lives," Bush said. "And in a free society, decisions about such a fundamental social institution as marriage should be made by the people, not by the courts."
Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.