Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett apologizes for gay 'lifestyle choice' comment

Sun. October 17, 2010 1:08 AM by GoPride.com News Staff

Chicago, IL - White House Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett has apologized for calling homosexuality a "lifestyle choice" as she tried to project the administration's compassion towards a gay teenager who committed suicide.

Justin Aaberg of Minnesota, like many gay teenagers, endured relentless bullying at school until he finally cracked. He had come out when he was 13, but by the time he was 15-years-old, he couldn't take the teasing any more. He hung himself.

Jarrett talked about Aaberg's family with an editorial writer at the Washington Post.

"These are good people. They were aware that their son was gay; they embraced him, they loved him, they supported his lifestyle choice," Jarrett said. "But when he left the home and went to school, he was tortured by his classmates."

Blogger Michael Petrelis slammed Jarrett for the phrase "lifestyle choice."

"What an outrage to claim that the 15-year-old Aarberg made a choice to be gay, and that sexual orientation is a lifestyle," he wrote.

Jarrett apologized the next day.

"I meant no disrespect to the LGBT community, and I apologize to any who have taken offense at my poor choice of words," Jarrett wrote in an email. "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."