Former First Lady Laura Bush made a surprising tack away from two of the most definitive social issues of her husband's presidency this week, telling CNN's Larry King that she backs gay marriage and abortion rights.
Speaking on King's show earlier this week, Bush said this about gay marriage:
I think that we ought to definitely look at it and debate it. I think there are a lot of people who have trouble coming to terms with that because they see marriage as traditionally between a man and a woman, but I also know that when couples are committed to each other and love each other that they ought to have the same sort of rights that everyone has.
King then asked her if she thought that the legalization of gay marriage was coming, to which Bush replied, "Yeah, it will come, I think."
The former first lady went on to explain her view of abortion rights, which she called "the social issue in 2000 that everyone got asked about."
Katie Couric interviewed Laura Bush on the day before her husband's first inauguration and asked her directly if she "was for the overturn of Roe versus Wade," Bush said. The question took some serious consideration.
"And I thought, do I really want to start my husband's presidency, you know, suggesting that a Supreme Court rule being overturned? And I said 'no,'" Bush explained. "And I think it's important that it remain legal, because I think its important for people for medical reasons and other reasons."
Asked if their sometimes different views on key social issues created any friction between she and former President Bush, Laura said "I really understand his view point and he understands mine."
Various interest groups have already reacted to Mrs. Bush's statements.
Michael Cole, spokesman for gay rights group the Human Rights Campaign responded:
"When the right wing was using same-sex couples as election year pawns and the president calling for a cynical constitutional amendment to deny people rights, we would have welcomed support from the first lady. Nevertheless, her speaking out for marriage equality shows that more and more Americans realize all families need the same rights and protections."
Carrie Gordon Earll, spokeswoman for the Christian conservative group Focus on the Family issued this statement:
"It's disappointing to hear Laura Bush, who is a well respected and admired former first lady, espouse positions on marriage and the value of human life that are contrary not only to her husband's but arguably, according to polls, in conflict with the majority of Americans."
Watch Bush's interview on CNN's "Larry King Live":