Laura Bush supports abortion rights and gay marriage: Are you as shocked as I am?

Laura Bush has proven me wrong. I saw the former first lady under the heat of the spotlight as a stand-by-your-man, passive woman. I respected her commitment to literacy and I wondered how in the world she could maintain such a steadied, blank expression during all that happened during her husband's terms in office.

But what I never expected was that she would support abortion rights and gay marriage. I wouldn't have guessed she would be vocal about believing that two people, no matter what their gender or sexual orientation, should be able to legally wed if they love each other and are committed to marriage. I am kind of shocked that she says abortion should remain legal for "medical and other reasons."

Here she is -- assertive, articulate, and speaking her mind about the political and social issues she says she not only supports now, she supported even as George W. Bush was preparing for his initial inauguration.

Laura Bush appeared on that she and her husband disagree on these issues but holds firm that "I really understand his view point and he understands mine."

On marriage equality, Laura Bush had this to say:"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."

She said that she believes that disagreement around marriage equity is "a generational thing" and that legalized gay marriage will come.

On keeping abortion legal, she stated that Katie Couric approached her the day before the former president's first inauguration, asking her point blank if Roe v. Wade should be overturned.

Bush said her response was thoughtful.

"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.' And I think it's important that it remain legal."

With daughters and a platform and international media attention, I commend Laura Bush for voicing her beliefs, even if they are what she says are the opposite of what the former president believes. And just like my delight and surprise at hearing Meghan McCain define herself politically, separately from her father, I appreciate Laura Bush's choice to be more liberal than any of us expect.

Now, the next thing you'll tell me is that an African-American man is president and the current first lady's tending an organic garden on the White House lawn.

More of Laura Bush's interview can be viewed here.

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[photo credit: Alex Wong / Getty Images News]