The other day in a speech, Valerie Jarrett referred to being gay as a "lifestyle choice." This understandably angered a lot of LGBT people because it's neither a lifestyle nor a choice. That framing is one that bigots use against us and Jarrett should not have said it even if she meant well. I don't think she's a homophobe. I do think that the White House is uncomfortable discussing gay issues and they don't talk to enough gay groups to find out the best way to communicate their message to us.
To her credit though, Politico is reporting that she has apologized for her misguided statement:
Jarrett, in an e-mail to Capehart, said that she "misspoke" when she described Aaberg’s sexual identity as a lifestyle choice.
"I meant no disrespect to the LGBT community, and I apologize to any who have taken offense at my poor choice of words," Jarrett said. "Sexual orientation and gender identity are not a choice, and anyone who knows me and my work over the years knows that I am a firm believer and supporter in the rights of LGBT Americans."
That's a pretty strong statement. Now the White House is on record saying orientation and gender identity are not a choice. That's better than Bush who said "I don't know" when he was asked if homosexuality is a choice in a debate during the 2004 campaign.
Her original comment was:
"These are good people. They were aware that their son was gay; they embraced him, they loved him, they supported his lifestyle choice," Jarrett told Capehart. "But when he left the home and went to school, he was tortured by his classmates."