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Bush Troubled by Gay Marriages in San Francisco - 2004-02-18

President Bush says he is troubled by developments in San Francisco, California where city officials are issuing marriage licenses to homosexual couples. Hundreds of recent same-sex weddings are making national headlines.

Gay marriage is an emotional issue in the United States, and has become part of the ongoing presidential campaign.

President Bush says he believes marriage should be defined as between a man and a woman. He has talked in the past about a possible constitutional amendment that would make marriage between homosexuals illegal. And he makes clear developments in San Francisco could have an impact.

"I have watched carefully what's happened in San Francisco, where licenses were being issued even though the law states otherwise. I have consistently stated that if, I'll support law to protect marriage between a man and a woman. And obviously, these events are influencing my decision," he said.

Speaking to reporters at the start of a meeting with the Tunisian president, Mr. Bush was asked if he was near a decision on a constitutional amendment. He offered no time frame, but restated his concern. "I'm troubled by what I've seen. People need to be involved with this decision. Marriage ought to be defined by the people, not by the courts. And I'm watching it carefully," he said.

Thousands of same-sex couples have applied for marriage licenses in San Francisco since last Thursday, when city leaders announced they would test state law barring such unions. Two conservative groups have gone to court in an effort to halt the practice. An initial ruling could come as soon as Friday.