By Alan Elsner
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush's political director has told a group of prominent conservatives that the president would soon publicly endorse a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.
Bay Buchanan, sister of former Republican presidential candidate Pat Buchanan, told Reuters she was one of several conservatives who heard the message from political director Karl Rove two weeks ago.
"We were told by Karl Rove that the president would support the constitutional amendment -- not just that he would endorse it but also that he would fight for it," Buchanan said.
Specifically, Rove told the alliance of conservatives known as the Arlington Group in a telephone conversation that Bush would back the amendment being put forward by Colorado Republican Rep. Marilyn Musgrave and that his statement would come "sooner rather than later."
The proposed amendment would reserve marriages solely for "unions between a man and a woman." It would allow state voters and legislatures to determine if they want to legalize civil unions between same-sex couples but would state that no court can require states to accept such civil unions.
Buchanan said she and colleagues were a little concerned that Bush had not yet spoken out in favor of the amendment.
"We had expected it by now. There have been several opportunities for the president to speak out since that time. We're not sure what he's waiting for," she said.
In his latest comment on the issue, Bush said on Wednesday he was troubled San Francisco was issuing marriage licenses to gays and lesbians "even though the law states otherwise."
"I'm troubled by what I've seen," Bush told reporters in his first public comments on the flood of City Hall weddings that have made San Francisco the focus of the gay marriage movement.
"I have consistently stated that I'll support (a) law to protect marriage between a man and a woman. And, obviously, these events are influencing my decision," Bush said.
Amending the constitution is a difficult task. It can take years to win the support of two-thirds of the House of Representatives, two-thirds of the Senate and ratification by three-quarters of the states.
But conservatives have made the constitutional amendment a litmus test for Bush. Democratic presidential front-runner John Kerry, says he favors civil unions for gays but not marriage.