Karine Jean-Pierre, the current White House Deputy Press Secretary, will soon become the first out LGBTQ person, as well as the first Black person, to serve as White House Press Secretary after current Press Secretary Jen Psaki steps down on Friday, May 13.
Jean-Pierre, who has served as Psaki’s top deputy since the start of the Biden administration, became the first Black woman in 30 years to address the White House press corps in May 2021, when she filled in for Psaki, which she has done on multiple occasions over the past year.
She previously served as chief public affairs officer for MoveOn.org and as an NBC and MSNBC political analyst, as well as in various communications-related posts in the Obama White House and Democratic presidential campaigns.
In her new role, Jean-Pierre will serve as the public face of the Biden White House, delivering the president’s daily message, fielding questions from reporters, and attempting to communicate the president’s accomplishments in easily understood, digestible soundbites to the American public — something at which even President Biden has admitted his administration has been unsuccessful.
Jean-Pierre takes over six months before the midterm elections, at a time when confidence in the incumbent Democratic administration is at an all-time low and when Democrats are expected to lose significant numbers of seats in Congress.
According to The Washington Post, if Republicans retake the House of Representatives, as expected, Jean-Pierre could face questions about GOP investigations into the Biden White House, although the White House Counsel’s Office is already bringing in another communications official, Ian Sams, to handle such inquiries. Anita Dunn, a former White House advisor, is also returning to help with the administration’s messaging efforts.
Jean-Pierre’s promotion has been hailed by several LGBTQ advocacy groups, who have noted that she has not been shy about speaking out on LGBTQ issues when it matters, such as when various states have proposed anti-LGBTQ legislation, or earlier this year, when she denounced an order issued by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott directing state agencies to investigate the families of transgender youth who are believed to have received gender-affirming care for “child abuse.”
“Karine Jean-Pierre is a brilliant communicator and person of tremendous intelligence, humor and poise, skills that will serve her and our country well in her new role,” GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement. “There are few jobs more visible or more important to our democracy than to share information with the White House press corps and answer their questions.
“To have an out queer person of color speak for the President of the United States says everything about Karine’s talent and heart, and recognizes that LGBTQ people can belong, contribute and succeed in every room,” Ellis added. “Our whole community looks forward to seeing Karine deliver for our nation and represent every LGBTQ person with pride.”
“The White House Press Secretary represents the voice of the President of the United States and the American people, and for the first time in our nation’s history, that voice will be the voice of a person who is both Black and openly same-gender loving. It’s about time — and we celebrate this moment,” Dr. David Johns. the executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, said in a statement.
“Karine Jean-Pierre is a long time member of the National Black Justice Coalition Family, and we could not be more proud of her,” he added. “We know that she will represent our nation as brightly as she has represented our communities over the years in every role she has served. Her lived experiences are a compliment to the rich and nuanced professional experiences she has had throughout her career. Make no mistake — at a time Black people, and members of the LGBTQ+ community are under attack, having a strong, openly Black same-gender loving woman as the voice of the White House and our nation sends a clear signal to all that our nation is better when we embrace who we are.”
The LGBTQ Victory Institute, which advocates for LGBTQ representation in government and public service, praised Jean-Pierre as a “lifelong public servant and fierce LGBTQ advocate” and noted that the Institute had advocated, through its Presidential Appointments Initiative, for Jean-Pierre to hold a significant role within the Biden administration.
“As White House Press Secretary, [Jean-Pierre] will not only be able to use her podium to represent the Biden administration, but also the LGBTQ community during a time of unprecedented anti-LGBTQ hate and attacks,” Annise Parker, the president and CEO of LGBTQ Victory Institute, said in a statement. “As the first out LGBTQ person and the first Black person to hold this office, her appointment will inspire countless young people looking for hope and motivation during a dark chapter in our nation’s history.
“Shattering this lavender ceiling is a testament to Karine’s grit, power and commitment to our country’s potential,” Parker added. “We are confident she will continue to be a strong ally and partner as she works in the highest office of the land.”
These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and MetroWeekly.com remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!