At a press conference this 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.