Bush's Tolerance of Civil Unions Spurs Ambivalent Reactions

One conservative group says gay civil unions should be states' issue while two other conservative groups call civil unions 'counterfeit' marriages.
( [email protected] ) Oct 27, 2004 06:37 PM EDT

Although President Bush is an adamant backer of a federal constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, he said Sunday that unlike his party’s platform, he supports gay civil unions.

"I don't think we should deny people rights to a civil union, a legal arrangement, if that's what a state chooses to do so," Bush told Charles Gibson during an interview on ABC’s "Good Morning America" which aired Tuesday.

He said the issue of same-sex civil unions should be left up to the states, reaffirming a position he had announced in February when he was pushing for the Federal Marriage Amendment.

"I view the definition of marriage different from legal arrangements that enable people to have rights,” said Bush. “And I strongly believe that marriage ought to be defined as between a union between a man and a woman. Now, having said that, states ought to be able to have the right to pass laws that enable people to be able to have rights like others."

Matt Daniel, a leader of one pro-traditional marriage group, Alliance for Marriage, agreed with Bush’s position.

Daniel said a federal ban on same-sex marriage, not on civil unions, "is the way for America to resolve this in the fairest way, the best way,” reported the Associated Press.

However, pro-family groups have refused to compromise traditional marriage.

Robert Knight, director of the Concerned Women for America’s Culture and Family Institute, told AP, “Civil unions are a government endorsement of homosexuality.”

"But I don't think President Bush has thought about it in that way. He seems to be striving for neutrality while defending marriage itself."

Randy Thomasson, executive director of Campaign for California Families, said there is a marginal difference between same-sex marriage and same-sex civil unions.

"Here's the truth, civil unions are homosexual marriage by another name," he said in an AP report. "Civil unions rob marriage of its uniqueness and award homosexuals all the rights of marriage available under state law."

He concluded, “Bush needs to understand what's going on and resist counterfeit marriages with all his might no matter what they're called.”