The Hilarious Story of How Michelle Obama Tried to Escape the White House

The former First Lady wanted to join her fellow citizens in celebrating a landmark Supreme Court ruling.

By Corinne Heller Nov 15, 2018 8:26 PMTags
Michelle Obama, The Ellen DeGeneres ShowWarner Bros.

Michelle Obama was so eager to celebrate the legalization of gay marriage with her fellow citizens that she tried to sneak out of the White House to join them.

The former First Lady made her comments on an episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Thursday, the latest stop on her tour to promote her new memoir, Becoming.

On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. Constitution provides same-sex couples the right to marry, effectively legalizing gay marriage. Crowds gathered to celebrate in public places across the country, including outside the White House, which was lit up in rainbow colors to show support to the LGBT community.

"When you're in the residence, there's so much bullet-proof glass that sometimes you don't hear what's going on outside," Obama said. "And we were having dinner and we were listen- 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."

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"So we had made that plan and I was sitting and watching it on TV and realizing, I'm living this. I said, 'I have to break out of this. I want to go outside and I want to be a part of that celebration,' she said. "So I had the bright idea, I'm going outside."

Obama asked her husband, then-President Barack Obama, to go with her.

"He was like, 'Babe, I've got too much stuff to do. I can't go out.' And he's like, 'You know I can't walk outside. Come on. Get out of my office," Obama joked.

Their daughter Sasha Obama didn't want to join her. But their daughter Malia Obama agreed.

"So it's me and Mali and we're trying to get out of the White House and realize that it's not that easy to get out of the White House when you're in it but we were determined," Obama said. "And I said, 'We are not listening to anyone. We are going to walk out that door, you and me.' So you come out of the residence and there's an elevator and there's usually a [Secret Service] agent right there and when you come out, they whisper our code names, 'They're moving.' And I'm like, dang, they know we're moving. Let's not take the elevator."

They rushed down some stairs and the agent started following them, as did other staffers. They got to a locked door.

"Malia's like, she's pumped up, she's like, 'We're going to do this, Mom, you get out, you get out,'" Obama said. "But the door is locked and then the usher says, 'Ma'am, um, if you walk out there, you will be on camera in front of the nation.' Now I'm in ripped up shorts and a T-shirt, no shoes on, no makeup, and I thought, hmm, you have a point. I don't want to be on that clip looking like this."

"But eventually, the happy news was that we got out," she said. "Malia and I walked outside. It took 15 minutes to get outside. And 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."