White House Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett reflected on her expansive role in the Obama administration and the “historic gains” that have been made for the LGBTQ community in an interview with the Washington Blade.
Jarrett has played a major role in the White House from the beginning of Obama’s first term. During her interview, Jarrett was confident that the strides she had made with the president for the LGBTQ community would “quite prominently” factor into Obama’s legacy.
Speaking on the fears that many LGBTQ-identifying people are feeling as President-elect Donald Trump prepares to take office on Jan. 20, 2017, Jarrett explained how she doesn’t believe Trump will be able to overturn the strides that were made during Obama’s administration.
She said this is because “the progress that we’ve made isn’t simply reflected in the laws that have been passed, although they are very important,” according to the Blade.
Instead, Jarrett said, “What we’ve seen is a shift in public perception and feelings and culture. That is not likely to reverse. And fortunately on issues such as marriage equality, the Supreme Court has ruled and that is unlikely to change.”
Over the last eight years, public perception in regards to LGBTQ rights has significantly changed — and for the better. According to a 2015 Gallup study, 68 percent of Americans believed that homosexual relationships between consenting adults should be legal, an increase from 2008, when that percentage was nearly 58 percent.
Jarrett also touched on what she expects to happen regarding the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. She told the Blade she was confident that healthcare protections for LGBTQ Americans and others would not be “undone.”
She said, “I also think that there are many people in the LGBTQ community who didn’t have health insurance and under the Affordable Care Act, they are among the 20 million-plus who now do.”
Jarrett added that as the number of enrollments in the program increases she hopes that it “creates additional disincentive to take important benefits from the American people.”
As for her and Obama’s roles now that they are leaving the White House, Jarrett said the most important role they could take on is being active citizens.
“Not only will [Obama] advocate for equality, but he will encourage other Americans to get involved and join that important effort because our society is only as good as we make it,” Jarrett said.
And her plan to do so is straightforward: “Be brave, be vigilant and continue to speak out.”