Michelle Obama Receives Lukewarm Reception for Lukewarm Position on Gay Marriage

Not everyone in the crowd at the Waldorf Astoria last night, where Michelle Obama addressed gay activists at a fund-raiser for the Gay and Lesbian Leadership Council of the Democratic National Committee, was bowled over by her talk of “robust civil unions,” even as she received a generally warm response for the rest of her speech.

Obama, who followed New York first lady Michelle Paterson and took the stage to the theme song “Michelle, My Belle,” mostly spoke about how her husband would continue to hold onto his principles through the campaign. She made no explicit mention of his calculated decision to absorb a big editorial hit by opting out of the public financing system, except to say how happy she was about the large number of small donors the campaign had attracted. (“We like the big donors, don’t get me wrong,” she joked.)

Speaking specifically to the gay donors in the hotel’s Starlight Room, she said, “Barack is not new to the cause of the LGBT community,” and pointed out the support he expressed in his positions on DOMA and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. But when she spoke of his support for “robust civil unions,” a position short of actual marriage rights, some of the men in the room shook their heads.

One of them was David Melancon, a 47-year-old marketing executive and Obama supporter who donated the maximum $2,300 to the candidate.

“I don’t think civil unions go far enough,” he said. “Gosh, no little boy or girl dreams of being part of a robust civil union.”