It just became harder for the Bush campaign to use Civil Unions against Dean.
President Bush on Tuesday appeared to open the door to same-sex unions that stop short of marriage, by saying people should be able to make "whatever legal arrangements" they want as long as a state recognizes them.
Bush, who has steadfastly opposed gay marriage, said in an ABC News interview for the first time that he would support a constitutional amendment enshrining heterosexual marriage. "If necessary, I will support a constitutional amendment which would honor marriage between a man and a woman, codify that."
However, he also said, "The position of this administration is that whatever legal arrangements people want to make, they're allowed to make, so long as it's embraced by the state or at the state level."
He said marriage should be a state issue, "except and unless judicial rulings undermine the sanctity of marriage. In which case, we may need a constitutional amendment."
His comments indicated that Bush, as he heads into his reelection campaign, was walking a fine line between the interests of his social conservative base which favors a constitutional ban on gay marriage and other voters who have shown more acceptance of same-sex unions.
That may be the best news the Dean campaign could hope for on this matter. I have serious doubts that Bush's nuanced approach will play well with his base. The reason they want FMA is to
prevent legal sanctioning of homosexual relationships. Bush has affectively said they can have their amendment, but only if it only has symbolic meaning.
In the mean time, it will now be much harder for Bush to use gay marriages as a weapon against Dean. He can still try (and no doubt will) but Dean can turn the attack back on Bush by asking Dubya to explain, in excruciating detail, how their positions differ. The more Dean can keep Bush on the defensive on this matter the better.