http://www.nytimes.com/2004/02/24/politics/24CND-GAY.html?hp=&pagewanted=print&position= Congress Is Urged to Begin Process to Amend Constitution By DAVID STOUT WASHINGTON, Feb. 24 President Bush said today he supported a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, declaring that such a measure was the only way to protect the status of marriage between man and woman, which he called "the most fundamental institution of civilization." In an announcement fraught with social, legal and political implications, Mr. Bush urged Congress to act on the amendment quickly and send it on to the state legislatures. Quick action is essential, he said, to bring clarity to the law and protect husband-and-wife marriages from a few "activist judges." "The voice of the people must be heard," Mr. Bush said in a brief White House appearance. Two-thirds of each house of Congress would have to approve the proposed amendment. It would then have to be approved by at least three-fourths of the state legislatures, or 38, to become part of the Constitution. "An amendment to the Constitution is never to be undertaken lightly," Mr. Bush said. "The amendment process has addressed many serious matters of national concern, and the preservation of marriage rises to this level of national importance." Mr. Bush's announcement had been expected. It is sure to be welcomed by his conservative backers, many of whom had been urging him to speak out. "We are delighted the president has stepped forward on this issue and his announcement serves as a critical catalyst to energize and organize those who will work diligently to ensure that marriage remains an institution between one man and one woman," said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the Washington-based American Center for Law and Justice, which describes itself as an international public interest law firm specializing in constitutional law. But the president's remarks were immediately denounced by people on the other side, even though Mr. Bush insisted today that the amendment he favored would not undermine tolerance and respect for all individuals. You don't want to hear what I have to say about this President.