Does The White House Get It?

This post has been updated.

A Pew poll released earlier this month showed increasing acceptance of gay marriage and repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. In a week during which a federal judge launched the downfall of Western civilization issued a nationwide injunction against enforcement of the military’s DADT rule, the Obama administration looks drastically out of step with the American public by signaling that it may very well appeal the ruling.

While there are obviously several political calculations at work there, what might be more telling is an off-the-cuff remark by Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett. Speaking to the Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart about bullying of LGBT youth (via Americablog), Jarrett referred to how the parents of a young man who committed suicide supported “his lifestyle choice.” What is this, 1982?

Of course the scientifically disproven notion that sexual orientation is a choice lies at the heart of the religious right’s anti-LGBT agenda. Did Jarrett slip, or does she really think this?

To the extent that the administration is seeking to placate or appeal to religiously conservative voters by acting like it’s stuck in another century on LGBT issues, it’s out of touch even with those voters. Obama would be right in line with nearly two thirds of Americans if he were to let the injunction stand. As the Pew poll showed, 60% of respondents believe gays and lesbians should serve openly in the military.

The only group that has more opponents of open service than supporters is white evangelicals. That’s it. Even among all Republicans, 47% are in support, and 43% oppose. In all other religious groups, more than half support open service (except for black Protestants, who favor it 46% to 41%). Even among weekly church attenders (the mysterious gold standard for who the allegedly truly religious are), there’s 49%-40% support for open service.

UPDATE: The ruling doesn’t, as Zach Roth suggests at the Upshot, revitalize the culture wars — they’ve never gone away. But the culture warriors quoted here are the core of the politicized vocal minority that will make as much of it as they possibly can — with their respective choirs.

UPDATE 2: Capehart publishes an apology from Jarrett, in which she emphasizes that she does not believe sexual orientation and gender identity are a choice. For his part, Capehart defends her, writing she “is no is no Tony Perkins. She is no bigot.” There’s room, obviously, for something between Tony Perkins and a highly unfortunate rhetorical usage that reflected a failure to be tuned into not only the issues, but the language used by opponents of LGBT equality.

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