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In the new Michelle Obama book, Becoming — already a best seller, to no one’s surprise — the former first lady shares a really touching story about something that happened the night the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Obergefell v. Hodges, the case that legalized same-sex marriage.
According to Obama, after seeing revelers outside the White House celebrating the landmark decision (on June 26, 2015), she and daughter Malia, then 16, snuck out of the White House to join in on the fun.
“When you’re in the residence, there’s so much bulletproof glass that sometimes you don’t hear what’s going on outside,” Michelle Obama told Ellen DeGeneres on the latter’s daytime chat show. “And we were having dinner and … we know there was a celebration happening but we didn’t realize that thousands of people were gathering in front of the White House at that time to celebrate. And my staff was calling me, everybody was celebrating, people were crying, and I thought, I want to be in that. Also, we had worked to make sure that the White House was lit up in the LGBT colors. It was beautiful.”
Check out this excerpt from the new Michelle Obama book, Becoming:
Looking out the window, I saw that beyond the gates on Pennsylvania Avenue, a big crowd of people had gathered in the summer dusk to see the lights. The north drive was filled with government staff who’d stayed late to see the White House transformed in celebration of marriage equality. The decision had touched so many people. From where I stood, I could see the exuberance, but I could hear nothing. It was an odd part of our reality.
We made our way down a marble staircase and over red carpets, around the busts of George Washington and Benjamin Franklin and past the kitchen until suddenly we were outdoors. Malia and I just busted past the agents on duty, neither one of us making eye contact. The humid summer air hit our faces. I could see fireflies blinking on the lawn. And there it was, the hum of the public, people whooping and celebrating outside the iron gates.
It had taken us 10 minutes to get out of our own home, but we’d done it. We were outside, standing on a patch of lawn off to one side, out of sight of the public but with a beautiful, close-up view of the White House, lit up in pride. Malia and I leaned into each other, happy to have found our way there.
Michelle Obama also told Ellen DeGeneres, “We stood along with all the cheering crowd, off to the side, mind you, so no one would see us, with security surrounding us, and we tried to have our tender mother-daughter moment. But we just took it in. I held her tight and my feeling was, we are moving forward. Change is happening.”