President Bush suggested in last night’s State of the Union address that he would support a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

Talking about defending the institution of marriage, Bush criticized “activist judges” for “redefining marriage by court order.”

“If judges insist on forcing their arbitrary will upon the people, the only alternative left to the people would be the constitutional process,” Bush said. “Our nation must defend the sanctity of marriage.”

In light of a recent ruling in Massachusetts that the state’s constitution doesn’t forbid gay marriage, some religious conservatives had urged Bush to use the address to issue a clear call for an amendment defining legal marriage as being between a man and woman. The president has said earlier that he opposes gay marriage, but he isn’t sure if amending the constitution is necessary.

In a nod to his “compassionate conservative” supporters, Bush added that the way the debate over gay marriage is conducted is as important as its outcome. “The same moral tradition that defines marriage also teaches that each individual has dignity and value in God’s sight,” he said.

Also in the speech, Bush alluded to values that “never change,” which he said are instilled by “fundamental institutions” such a as families, schools and religion. “These institutions, the unseen pillars of civilization, must remain strong in America, and we will defend them,” he pledged.

Bush asked Congress to double funding for abstinence-based programs in schools. “Abstinence for young people is the only certain way to avoid sexually transmitted diseases,” he said.

He said his proposed budget will include new funding for drug testing in schools, and he called on professional athletes to set an example for youth by avoiding use of performance-enhancing drugs.

“The use of performance-enhancing drugs like steroids in baseball, football and other sports is dangerous, and it sends the wrong message–that there are shortcuts to accomplishment, and that performance is more important than character,” he said. “So tonight I call on team owners, union representatives, coaches and players to take the lead, to send the right signal, to get tough, and to get rid of steroids now.”

Bush also asked Congress to codify his executive order establishing his faith-based initiative to make it easier for religious institutions to qualify for federal grants.

“Religious charities of every creed are doing some of the most vital work in our country, mentoring children, feeding the hungry, taking the hand of the lonely,” he said. “Yet government has often denied social service grants and contracts to these groups just because they have a cross or Star of David or crescent on the wall.”

He proposed one such program, a $300 million, four-year initiative to provide job training and placement for prisoners, to include faith-based charities.

“My fellow citizens, we now move forward, with confidence and faith,” he concluded his address.

“Our nation is strong and steadfast. The cause we serve is right, because it is the cause of all mankind. The momentum of freedom in our world is unmistakable, and it is not carried forward by our power alone. We can trust in that greater power Who guides the unfolding of the years. And in all that is to come, we can know that His purposes are just and true.

“May God bless the United States of America. Thank you.”

Bob Allen is managing editor of

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