Bush: Gov't Lawyers Working on Marriage Law

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President Bush said Wednesday he has government lawyers working on a law that would define marriage as a union between a woman and a man, casting aside calls to legalize gay marriages (search).

"I believe marriage is between a man and a woman and I believe we ought to codify that one way or the other and we have lawyers looking at the best way to do that," the president said a wide-ranging news conference at the White House Rose Garden.

Bush also urged, however, that America remain a "welcoming country" -- not polarized on the issue of homosexuality.

"I am mindful that we're all sinners and I caution those who may try to take a speck out of the neighbor's eye when they got a log in their own," the president said. "I think it is important for our society to respect each individual, to welcome those with good hearts."

"On the other hand, that does not mean that someone like me needs to compromise on the issue of marriage," he added.

Bush has long opposed gay marriage but as recently as earlier this month had said that a constitutional ban on gay marriage proposed in the House might not be needed despite a Supreme Court decision that some conservatives think opens the door to legalizing same-sex marriages.

The Supreme Court struck down a Texas law that made homosexual sex a crime, overturning an earlier ruling that said states could punish homosexuals for having sex.

Conservative Justice Antonin Scalia (search) fired off a blistering dissent of the ruling.

The "opinion dismantles the structure of constitutional law that has permitted a distinction to be made between heterosexual and homosexual unions, insofar as formal recognition in marriage is concerned," Scalia wrote. The ruling specifically said that the court was not addressing that issue, but Scalia warned, "Do not believe it."

Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, R-Colo., is the main sponsor of the proposal offered May 21 to amend the Constitution. It was referred on June 25 to the House Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution.

To be added to the Constitution, the proposal must be approved by two-thirds of the House and the Senate and ratified by three-fourths of the states.