(UPDATE at end)
I did wonder when I first saw the ad campaign launched by The Respect for Marriage Coalition, pushing for marriage equality, if the four people featured in the video ad knew about it. The quotes by all four – Barack Obama, Dick Cheney, Laura Bush and Colin Powell – are all from public comments. But Laura Bush has objected.
Here’s the ad video:
Laura Bush is not pleased that she is included. From Zack Ford, at Think Progress according to a statement obtained by the Dallas Morning News:
Laura Bush Objects To Being Quoted Accurately Supporting Marriage Equality …
(quoting the Dallas Morning News) ‘… Bush spokeswoman Anne MacDonald said in a statement Wednesday that the former first lady ‘did not approve of her inclusion in this advertisement nor is she associated with the group that made the ad in any way.’
‘When she became aware of the advertisement last night, we requested that the group remove her from it … .’
This kind of thing happens regularly, of course. Public statements are just that. What also occurs regularly is the kind of objection Ms. Bush raises – what she might consider a misuse, a “pulling out of context,” or whatever. In this case, the comments used were from a lengthy interview with Larry King, upon the release of her book. When talking about same-gender couples who are “committed,” she says: “ … they ought to have, I think, the same civil rights that everyone has.” Of course, she can believe / think that, and still object to being included in the ad.
This request is a cowardly escape from her role as a public figure. If Bush did not want her support for marriage equality to be widely known or cited, she should not have written about it in her book or openly discussed it with Larry King on CNN.
Here’s the video of the entire “gay marriage” part of the 2010 interview with King:
So, Laura Bush objects to pro-marriage equality statements being used in the Respect for Marriage Coalition campaign. That campaign is leading up to the hearings SCOTUS has on its calendar next month related to DOMA and Prop 8. Mr. Obama, at least that I’ve seen reported, has not objected. But in related news, from Chris Geidner at Buzzfeed, the president
… refused to say Wednesday whether his administration will weigh in on the challenge to California’s Proposition 8 marriage amendment that is before the Supreme Court.
Distancing himself from the decision, Obama said …
‘The solicitor general [in the Justice Department] is still looking at this. I have to make sure that I’m not interjecting myself too much into this process, particularly when we’re not a party to the case. … I can tell you, though, obviously, my personal view, which is that I think that same-sex couples should have the same rights and be treated like everybody else, and that’s something I feel very strongly about and my administration is acting on wherever we can.’
Presidents, of course, never, ever do something like “interjecting” in the judicial “process.”
A big piece of the pressure here is that there is a February 28 “deadline for filing an amicus curiae — or friend of the court — brief with the high court … .” From Geidner:
Earlier Wednesday, the Associated Press reported that a senior administration official said that no ‘final decision” had been made yet on whether a brief would be filed in the Proposition 8 case….
Although the administration is a party to a second case before the court challenging the Defense of Marriage Act’s federal definition of ‘marriage’ and ‘spouse’ as being limited to marriages of one man and one woman, the administration is not involved in the Proposition 8 litigation.
For me, this is another instance of “file under ‘no surprise.’” It’s Obama being Obama, taking a cautious approach, including the familiar expression of his “personal view” off-setting his WH decision-making view. His administration has, and is, taking steps toward LGBT equality, and that should be noted. He consistently does so in a “follow the advocates and polls” kind of way, not in a “lead the way.” Which is also not at all unusual, if still frustrating.
Neither the objecting from Laura Bush nor the cautious waiting from the president is surprising. Fully “coming out” as an LGBT ally is a process.
New gay marriage ad won’t use Laura Bush …
In a statement, the Respect for Marriage Coalition said …
‘We used public comments for this ad from American leaders who have expressed support for civil marriage. … We appreciate Mrs. Bush’s previous comments but are sorry she didn’t want to be included in an ad. The ad launched a public education campaign that will now move to new and different voices that reflect the depth and breadth of our support.’