Rep. Sonny Bono, whose daughter is a lesbian, says he understands gay rights activists who support same-sex marriage, but he just "can't handle" the idea now.

Bono, R-Calif., told fellow members of the House Judiciary Committee that he supports a bill that would define marriage as a legal union of one man and one woman in federal law. Opponents have denounced the bill as discriminatory."I'm not homophobic. I'm not a bigot. I'm not pandering to hatred," Bono said Tuesday. "I simply can't handle it. It's nothing else, but at least I want to honestly say that to you and throw aside all the legal rhetoric."

His comments came at the end of a long committee hearing on the bill, which was introduced last month by Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga. The committee was expected to send the bill to the House for a vote.

Bono said he sees the gay point of view and loves his daughter, Chastity. He respects gays and is a close friend of Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., who is gay. But Bono still opposes gay marriage.

"I think it breaks down to whether you're able to handle something or whether you're not able to handle something. I don't like my daughter any less because she's gay," he said. "I wish I was ready, but I can't tell my son it's OK."

Frank said he appreciated the "candor and the decency" that motivated Bono's comments. But he continued to maintain the bill was fundamentally unfair to gays.