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NATIONAL REACTIONS

Groups expect Bush to press for constitutional amendment

A conservative group and gay rights advocates said yesterday they expect President Bush to call on Congress, possibly during a rare appearance Sunday on a television talk show, to pass and send to the states a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union of a man and a woman.

Bush is scheduled to be a guest on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday, and gay rights advocates fear that the president will use that appearance to call for congressional approval of such an amendment now that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has explicitly said the state must recognize gay marriages.

White House spokesman Trent Duffy said he "wouldn't be surprised" if the subject of gay marriage is discussed on the show, but he added: "I don't know what they're going to be discussing."

Bush has irked some social conservatives by not publicly backing legislation that would, if passed by Congress and ratified by 38 states, insert the traditional definition of marriage into the Constitution. He has repeatedly said he would support such federal legislation only if courts clear the way for gay marriage.

Republicans who attended a retreat with Bush in Philadelphia last weekend said the president voiced support for a proposed amendment filed in Congress by Senator Wayne Allard and Representative Marilyn Musgrave, Republicans from Colorado.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, a conservative group that opposes gay marriage, said he expects Bush to call for a constitutional amendment soon.

WAYNE WASHINGTON

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