The U.S. Constitution provides a means by which a government can operate without encroaching the rights of citizens. Certain individual rights are protected; for example, the right to free speech and a woman’s right to vote.
President Bush suggests that the sanctity of marriage should be protected as an amendment to the constitution. While it seems reasonable that the connotation of marriage remains distinct from a civil union, it is not consistent with the spirit of the Constitution that it would be ratified as an amendment.
Many gay couples complain they have no recourse to provide for the care of each other in the event that one of them is incapacitated. Furnishing an option for marriage would include this kind of protection, which is a reasonable expectation when two people have decided to spend their lives together. However, this ability can also be provided contractually without impinging the sanctity of marriage. For example, a durable power of attorney would allow a gay couple virtually all of these protections.
While the term marriage should continue to connote the union of a man and a woman, gay couples should have legal recourse to create civil unions that include the same legal rights as married couples. Societal establishments do not belong in the U.S. Constitution, it remains the purview of a judicial branch to adjudicate in favor of civil unions where they do not violate federal or state law.