Senior White House Advisor Valerie Jarrett has a message for the GOP presidential candidates -- namely, Rand Paul, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz -- who’ve been running on an anti-gay agenda.
“It might be interesting in the 24-hour news cycle,” she told me in a recent interview on SiriusXM Progress. “But ultimately... the American people don’t embrace that kind of opinion.”
Jarrett, who spoke with me about a groundbreaking federal report that calls for ending “conversion therapy” programs for minors who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, responded to Rand Paul’s assertion in Iowa several days earlier that LGBT people don’t need to be protected by law against discrimination in employment. Paul, in backing up his claim, said, “If you are gay, there are plenty of places that will hire you," explaining that “the things you do in your house, just leave those in your house and they wouldn't have to be a part of the workplace.”
“Well, this is what I would say to you on that subject,” Jarrett said. "President Obama was elected not once, but twice based on his vision of America, which is one that unifies us, one that is inclusive, that says we should embrace all of our citizens, that we are a nation of immigrants, and that diversity is a strength. And that’s what the majority of the American people voted for, not once, but twice.”
Jarrett also discussed a report that was released this week by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which looked at statements from across the spectrum of child adolescent and development experts regarding both gender identity and sexual orientation. The White House had previously called for banning “conversion therapy” for minors, something three states (California, Oregon and New Jersey) have already done.
"The report concluded firmly that conversion therapy -- and the goal of conversion therapy is to change someone’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression -- and it concludes that it’s not appropriate for mental health providers to engage in, and so this is a really important report,” Jarrett said. “What we should be doing is celebrating our young people, allowing them to be who they are, loving them for who they are, and not trying to change their identity.”
Jarrett talked about the immense progress the Obama administration has made on LGBT equality, sharing a story about the successful push to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" which illustrates the great strides.
"I went to the Defense Department on the first anniversary of [the repeal],” she recounted. “And I sat there in the Pentagon with people in uniform who had to [previously] sneak into my office at the White House to talk about how important it would be to repeal it and who were saying, ‘You know, here we are in the military. We’re making this pledge and this oath and we’re having to lie about who we are.’ And so, for me to see them, sitting there in their uniforms, embraced by the Secretary of Defense -- it just shows you how much progress we have made.”
In a lighter moment, Jarrett also weighed in on the plot line of "The Good Wife," the CBS drama on which she made an appearance as herself last season, urging Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) to run for state’s attorney in Illinois. She said she decided do the show because she believes more women need to enter politics and it was an opportunity to put that message forth.
Asked if she believes Florrick’s husband, Gov. Peter Florrick (Chris Noth), should be chosen by Hillary Clinton as a vice presidential running mate should she win the Democratic nomination -- something for which the character is positioning himself, as the 2016 presidential race is part of the storyline this season -- Jarrett answered with a definitive no.
“I think she should think about Alicia,” she advised. “I would go back to the candidate that I brought to the party, and I’d say hands down I’d pick Alicia over Peter, any day. But if not, then maybe next year Alicia will actually run for president."
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