President George W. Bush spoke extensively about same-sex marriage during a July 9 campaign stop in Kutztown, Pa. An attendee at the 'Ask President Bush' event inquired, 'I was wondering what your plans are for banning gay marriage in the 50 states?'
Bush replied: 'Yes. He asked about gay marriage. This is, first of all, a very sensitive issue, that people need to take a deep breath and debate with the ultimate of respect, for starters. I believe in the sanctity of marriage. I believe that marriage is a—I believe marriage an important part of the future of families, the traditional definition of marriage. I think it's—history has shown us that marriage between men and women has served society well, and any redefinition by itself will weaken marriage.'
He continued: 'Secondly, this is a subject which ought not be decided by courts. This is a decision which ought to be decided— this is too important a decision to have defined by four judges in a state, say, like Massachusetts. And therefore, I believe the people ought to be encouraged to participate in the process.
'Thirdly, one of the interesting issues that we're confronted with here in the country is that if a state decides to redefine marriage, people who are then married in that state can come to a state like Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania must accept that marriage. Now, that is right now protected, what's called the Defense of Marriage Act, signed by President Clinton. But there's a lot of legal experts who tell me that that act is going to be struck down in the court of law, which would then mean that a court could decide, redefine marriage—a court—the people would get married, and they'd come to another state and say, you must accept me —us as a married couple, which then redefines the marriage in the new state.
'Now, this is a sensitive issue that the people ought to decide,' Bush said, 'and the best way they ought to decide, in my judgment, is to be—is to have a constitutional process go forward that must be ratified by the state legislatures. That's how you get the people involved. And I repeat to you—my own view is, is that if a state—if people decide to—what they do in the privacy of their house, consenting adults should be able to do. This is America. It's a free society. But it doesn't mean we have to redefine traditional marriage.'