Alberto Gonzales to President: “Only Way To Prevent” Judge Ruling for SSM is Constitutional Amendment

June 27th, 2014

In a piece about gay people in President Bush’s administration, titled Inside George W. Bush’s Closet, we learn these facts about the legal deliberations concerning a proposed constitutional marriage amendment:

If Rove saw political gain, other Bush aides saw a legal preemptive strike—against exactly the court-driven change that is now playing out. “The president’s position was that gay marriage could be imposed on the country by a federal court decision. One judge could do it,” says McConnell, the speechwriter, who is also a lawyer. McConnell says he understood that after a 2003 Massachusetts court ruling raised the issue, then-White House counsel Gonzales advised that “the only way to prevent that is a marriage amendment. It’s not an unreasonable position. It certainly was not anti-gay.”

Gonzales confirms this. “My view was it was only a matter of time” before the courts might legalize gay marriage, he told me. Gonzales says he advised Bush that, “to the extent that the president or anyone else was interested in maintaining marriage as an institution between a man and a woman, it would require a constitutional amendment.” He hastened to add: “I’m not passing judgment on the policy. I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing for the country … or passing judgment on the morality of gay marriage.”

Gonzales says he doesn’t know whether it was his advice or Rove’s that moved Bush to propose the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Regardless, Gonzales adds, “It would obviously have reflected at the end of the day what President Bush wanted.”

And the kicker. The speechwriter who wrote the President’s remarks concerning the amendment was gay.

But McConnell says Bush’s position on gay marriage was a reasonable combination of his personal concept of “morality” and the central GOP concept of frowning on an activist judiciary.

McConnell matter-of-factly told me he likely helped write Bush’s 2004 remarks endorsing the constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Even now the gay speechwriter defends that course. “I believed the president was taking a principled position, and the words he spoke on that issue were always reasonable and tolerant. That hasn’t always been the spirit of the debate, but it’s always been the spirit of George W. Bush. There was never a day I wasn’t proud of him and the vice president.”