White House: Same-sex families ‘deserve legal protections, ability to thrive’


ZACK FORD [e]Editor, Think Progress LGBT[m]

At a press conference Tuesday afternoon, White House press secretary Jay Carney responded to a question about First Lady Michelle Obama’s comments at various campaign stops yesterday defending same-sex couples right to “love whomever they choose.”

Stopping short of indicating support for marriage equality, Carney explained that her comments referred to the President’s opposition to the Defense of Marriage Act:

CARNEY: She has said this before and has for some time, and that is a reference to the president’s position on the Defense of Marriage Act. The president and first lady firmly believe that gay and lesbian Americans and their families deserve legal protections and the ability to thrive just like any family does.

The first lady has said she is proud of his accomplishments, including the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ ensuring hospital visitation rights and calling for the repeal of DOMA and obviously our actions on DOMA. And our decision not to defend DOMA is well known.

The only kind of legal protection that would allow same-sex families “to thrive just like any family does” is marriage, so this comment represents perhaps the closest the Obama administration has come to openly supporting marriage equality.

As Greg Sargent pointed out today in the Washington Post, the first lady’s rehtoric “was just vague enough to again underscore the confusion that surrounds the White House’s position on this issue,” and Carney’s response only accentuates that confusion. Nevertheless, without a full-throated endorsement, the President presumably continues to “evolve” on whether he personally supports legalizing same-sex marriage.

At campaign fundraisers for her husband’s re-election, the First Lady on Monday emphasized that the Supreme Court justices the President could appoint in a second term could help protect the equal rights of LGBT people:

MICHELLE OBAMA: [L]et us not forget about what it meant when my husband appointed those two magnificent Supreme Court justices. And for the first time in history, our daughters and our sons watched three women take their seat on our nation’s highest court.

And let us not forget what their decisions — the impact those decisions will have on our lives for decades to come -– on our privacy and security, on whether we can speak freely, worship openly, and, yes, love whomever we choose. But that’s what’s at stake. That’s the choice that we face.

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