October 26, 2004

BUSH ON CIVIL UNIONS: President Bush said today that he favors civil unions for gays, or at least that he doesnít agree with the Republican Party platform that opposes them. This is news to me. How can he be in favor of civil unions and also back the Federal Marriage Amendment? He canít, at least not consistently. The FMA would ban civil unions as well as gay marriage. This is a flip Iíll take, as long as he doesnít flop back on it.

UPDATE: Okay, so this isn't the first time Bush has mentioned this. Carl Fenley emails a link to this CNN article from February 2004 which quotes Bush as saying the states should be allowed to define "legal arrangements other than marriage." Bush has tried to have it both ways, even so. The FMA states "Neither this constitution or the constitution of any state, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups." [Emphasis added.]

SECOND UPDATE: Eugene Volokh thinks Bush is being consistent. Perhaps so. Read his whole argument, but here is his conclusion:

So if the FMA is enacted (and note that, as I've blogged before, I do not support its enactment), the result will be almost exactly what Bush suggests: A state could still "choose to" recognize "a civil union" as "a legal arrangement." It would have to do so via a statute -- just as most family law is defined by statute -- not via a court decision or (probably) a constitutional amendment. But it would indeed be free to make such a choice.