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First Lady Michelle Obama now stumping for gay rights, possibly marriage

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Very interesting. I don't recall the First Lady every saying anything publicly about gay rights before [update - yes she did, I cite it below].   And now hinting at support for marriage equality, which is what she did.  Vaguely.  But it's there.  From Chris Geidner at Metro Weekly:

At multiple events in New York City on Monday, March 19, First Lady Michelle Obama -- in campaigning for her husband's re-election -- made reference to the effect that Supreme Court appointees will have on "whether we can ... love whomever we choose."

Although she did not explicitly mention marriage equality, the possibility of a case raising that issue reaching the Supreme Court has been a regular topic of discussion -- particularly in light of the challenge to California's marriage amendment, Proposition 8, that is currently being considered by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
I've been saying for a while now that the White House should be using Michelle Obama to woo the gay vote (among others). Though I only met her briefly at the White House Christmas party this past December, it was clear to me immediately that she's the kind of woman both gay men and lesbians would love (far more so than her husband, actually): she's fun, energetic, strong, personable.

It appears the White House has now figured that out.

Having said that, as the Washington Post's Greg Sargent notes, with the help of gay lawyer Richard Socarides, the White House is sowing more confusion by having the First Lady issue these kind of vague "read it any way you want" statement.
[T]he First Lady has repeatedly denied backing marriage equality. And a campaign official insists to me the new language isn’t significant.

“This is something that’s always been a part of the first lady’s stump speech," the official said. “She’s referring to a range of legal rights, such as hospital visitation rights, and she’s in sync with the president on the issue.”

So the right to “love whomever we choose,” does not include the right to marry?

That’s the question gay advocates will continue asking, Socarides tells me: At best language like this will come across as support for gay marriage, particularly given Obama’s good gay rights record. At worst, it will sow more confusion.

“In this political environment, when you use language like that, you are sending a message,” Socarides says. “Does the freedom to love whomever we choose not include the freedom to marry? When you have a policy position in the state of perpetual evolution, these are the kinds of problems that are created.”

In other words: Evolve already.
In fact, I do find several references via Google to "love whomever we choose" in the First Lady's stump speeches last month and last fall. And it didn't raise much of a stir before, other than on far-right Web sites. But it's raising a stir now.

Such is the issue of gay marriage. What was once not so volatile because no one figured it would ever happen, has now risen to the putative number one issue in the community. Comments that were once benign, now raise eyebrows. This is an issue the President can't get away from by simply remaining vague and perpetually claiming that he's evolving. The issue will come to a head this September, when the Democratic party decides whether or not to include marriage equality in the party platform. And no matter what it decides, it will put the President in an awful position if he hasn't evolved by then. And provoking the base 8 weeks before the general election is not a wise re-election strategy.

UPDATE: Greg just posted an additional comment from the First Lady's office that doesn't exactly clarify things.  See the bottom of his post.

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