Don't Tell Me to Wait

How the Fight for Gay Rights Changed America and Transformed Obama's Presidency


By Kerry Eleveld

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From an award-winning political journalist, the story of how LGBT activists pushed Obama to embrace gay rights — transforming his presidency in the process

Gay rights has been a defining progressive issue of Barack Obama’s presidency: Congress repealed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in 2010 with his strong support, and in 2011, he instructed his Justice Department to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act, helping to pave the way for a series of Supreme Court decisions that ultimately legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. This rapid succession of victories is astonishing by any measure — and is especially incredible considering that when Obama first took office he, like many politicians, still viewed gay rights as politically toxic. In 2008, for instance, he opposed full marital rights for same-sex couples, calling marriage a “sacred union” between a man and a woman. It wasn’t until 2012, in the heat of his reelection campaign, that Obama finally embraced marriage equality.

In Don’t Tell Me to Wait, former Advocate reporter Kerry Eleveld shows that Obama’s transformation from cautious gradualist to gay rights champion was the result of intense pressure from lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender activists. These men and women changed the conversation issue by issue, pushing the president and the country toward greater freedom for LGBT Americans. Drawing on years of research and reporting, Eleveld tells the dramatic story of the fight for gay rights in America, detailing how activists pushed the president to change his mind, turned the tide of political opinion, and set the nation on course to finally embrace LGBT Americans as full citizens of this country.

With unprecedented access and unparalleled insights, Don’t Tell Me to Wait captures a critical moment in American history and demonstrates the power of activism to change the course of a presidency-and a nation.



The Inaugural Insult

Robin McGehee was exhausted after spending an eight-hour day in October of 2008 canvassing for her candidate, Barack Obama, in Fresno, situated in the heart of California's central valley. Unlike the Golden State's two most prominent cities, Los Angeles and San Francisco, Fresno is smack dab in the middle of the state and its politics lean center-right. At the time, Fresno County had broken Republican in every presidential election since 1980, save one: 1992, when a dazzling young Bill Clinton charmed the moveable middle of this country straight into office.1

McGehee and her Obama "HOPE" signs were proving to be a hot commodity in the waning campaign days of 2008. The Democratic Party wasn't applying a full-court press in Fresno the way it was in more liberal parts of the state. Much of the canvassing there was left up to local organizers like McGehee, who would drive over three hours north to San Francisco to pick up signs from the Obama for America HQ in the city's SoMa district.2

But McGehee had her eye on another prize: defeating Proposition 8. As the mother of two young children who had married her lesbian partner in June of 2008 during the narrow window when it was legal, McGehee was also pilfering as many "No On 8" signs as possible for transport back to Fresno. The effort to thwart the anti-gay ballot measure was being headed up by an unusually large executive committee of more than a dozen LGBT advocates—including, most notably, leaders from Equality California, the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights—along with some paid political consultants. No On 8 was ultimately well funded, taking in a total of about $44 million from wealthy to small-dollar LGBT donors and allies. (Supporters of the ban raised about $40 million, with more than half of it coming from members of the Mormon Church.) The No On 8 campaign's San Francisco office was just up Market Street from the Democrats' HQ, about a block away from the heart of the Castro district. And much like the Democrats, No On 8 organizers were focusing their energy on more progressive strongholds to the north and south.3

After knocking on around one hundred doors that day, McGehee opened the door to her own home, went straight for a glass of water and some food, then checked her messages. There it was—the robocall she'd heard about. Barack Obama saying he considered marriage to be "a sacred union" between man and woman. "You know, God's in the mix."4

You've got to be kidding me, she thought. McGehee was working her butt off trying to get Obama elected and stop the ballot bashing in her state. On some days, she even enlisted the help of her five-year-old son, Sebastian, and two-year-old daughter, Jackson, who wore matching junior-sized "Team Obama Nation" T-shirts (yellow with a silkscreened white collar and blue tie on the front). Yet there was her candidate, in a moment she would rather forget, speaking out against her and her family—and with audience applause to boot.

The message sank in. McGehee stewed. But several minutes later, she shrugged it off. They were going to win both battles, she figured, the election and Prop 8. Obama was just doing what needed to be done to get elected. The country wasn't ready to accept marriage equality yet. She understood that. But once Obama was in office, his advocacy on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans would trump his anti-gay marriage rhetoric. She was certain of it.


McGehee had fallen for Obama at the same time many other Americans had—during his 2004 Democratic National Convention speech when he was still just a candidate for US Senate. During his oft-quoted ode to red states and blue states, Obama had added what at the time was an unusual reference. "We coach Little League in the blue states, and, yes, we've got some gay friends in the red states," he explained, weaving the commonalities of our citizenry throughout a list of assumptions often used to divide conservatives and liberals.5

It may seem like a pittance today, that one word. Gay. It wasn't even a plea for rights and freedoms, only an acknowledgement of our existence. But just being seen from that stage, in that convention's keynote address, at that political moment, meant something.

LGBT Americans were under attack that year. Republicans had launched an all-out offensive on gay rights in the form of eleven proposed state constitutional amendments that would prohibit same-sex marriage. President George W. Bush's campaign chief Karl Rove famously hoped the "moral values" push would simultaneously draw more social conservatives to the polls and deliver the GOP a second term. Bush did win, of course, but not necessarily because of the marriage referenda—even though that's what many people assume. Many political scientists and pollsters concluded that the ballot measures did produce higher turnout, but they did so among both Republicans and Democrats (many of whom still opposed same-sex marriage). Ultimately, terrorism—and whom people trusted to handle it—had a more statistically significant impact on inflating Bush's numbers from 2000 to 2004. Even Rove himself later noted that Bush's share of the vote increased in 2004 by almost the exact same number of points on average in states with and without referenda.6

But on election night, the facts weren't overly scrutinized in the media scrum to instantaneously explain Bush's win. As often happens in politics, once the notion that the marriage measures had tanked John Kerry's presidential bid cleared the bar of conventional wisdom, it became lore in Washington. Bush's win in tandem with the eleven successful marriage amendments would be wielded as indisputable evidence that gay issues were losers for the next several election cycles.

But at the convention—before anyone knew the outcome of the marriage amendments sweep—Obama's single-word affirmation felt incredibly validating. For McGehee, a Gen Xer, Senator Obama was starting to look a lot like Bill Clinton had once looked to gay Baby Boomers. Fresh.

Clinton had defied his predecessors by openly courting gay voters. He had also accepted money—more than $2.5 million of it—that was bundled for him by gay and lesbian donors. It was the first presidential election in which gay Americans had really flexed their monetary muscle, and it was very much a sign of times to come. When it came time for Clinton to make his nomination acceptance speech at the 1992 Democratic convention, he also gave a nod to gay Americans.7

"We must say to every American: Look beyond the stereotypes that blind us," Clinton told the nation on July 16, 1992. "For too long politicians have told the most of us that are doing all right that what's really wrong with America is the rest of us. Them. Them, the minorities. Them, the liberals. Them, the poor. Them, the homeless. Them, the people with disabilities. Them, the gays . . . But this is America. There is no them. There is only us."8

It was an historic first for a nominee. Clinton had raised the profile of lesbian and gay Americans in his campaign and provided great hope to many in the LGBT community. Of course, those hopes were largely dashed by a presidency that yielded the legacy of the "don't ask, don't tell" (DADT) law banning gays from serving openly in the military and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which prevented the federal government from legally recognizing same-sex marriages. But in 1992, Clinton's candidacy felt like a political spring for gay America after a dark decade in which the federal government had largely denied its very existence even as gay men died of AIDS by the thousands.

In much the same way, 2008 felt like a rebirth for LGBT Americans after the deep freeze of the socially conservative Bush years. McGehee may have had her heart set on Barack Obama from the start, but he was by no means the only viable Democratic candidate for LGBT voters. In fact, Senator Hillary Clinton had been adored by gay men and lesbians alike for years—ever since she became the first First Lady to march in a Gay Pride Parade in New York City in 2000. And John Edwards, Kerry's 2004 running mate, had also made inroads with some prominent LGBT activists, especially those who opposed the Iraq War and liked his emphasis on antipoverty issues.

Gays had been treated like a piñata by Republicans and social conservatives with increasing intensity over the past decade. Between 1998 and 2006, a total of twenty-six states passed ballot measures prohibiting same-sex marriage. Politically, the question rarely seemed to be, "How will Democrats help aggressively advance the rights of LGBT people?" It was usually, "Which Republicans will launch the most masterful attacks on gays and, in response, how will Democrats effectively telegraph empathy without risking any moderate votes?" But in the 2008 primary, with a field full of viable Democratic candidates fighting over progressive votes, that all changed.9


No one could have anticipated just how far Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama would be pulled in a new direction on LGBT rights when they kicked off their seventeen-month nomination quest at the outset of 2007. The lengthy slugfest that ensued benefitted every progressive constituency as the candidates made promise after promise to woo voters along the way. But LGBT Americans—who far and away represent the smallest slice of the progressive pie—watched the two presidential hopefuls compete for their votes as never before.

In fact, the 2008 election was tailor-made for the LGBT community. First, every vote truly did count as Clinton tried desperately to edge her way back into the race after a disappointing showing in February—Obama won twenty-one states to Clinton's nine—that left her trailing by more than 150 delegates. But Clinton had a distinct edge over Obama with lesbian, gay, and bisexual voters. A Hunter College poll in November 2007 showed LGB voters favoring Clinton over Obama by a margin of 63 to 22 percent. Clinton needed to keep a lock on that lead.10

Second, even though Democrats in Washington had spent the past decade running away from gay issues, mainstream America had started to embrace lesbians and gays. Ellen DeGeneres had defied conventional wisdom in Hollywood and become a megastar even after coming out on the cover of TIME magazine in 1997. The TV sitcom Will & Grace, centered around a gay lawyer and his neurotic female roommate, had warmed the hearts of Americans for nearly a decade during its eight-season run from 1998 to 2006. Even certain sectors of government were advancing: the Supreme Court had overturned sodomy laws nationwide in 2003, Massachusetts was four years into marrying same-sex couples, and twenty state legislatures had enacted laws protecting gays in the workplace (though protections for transgender workers hadn't progressed as far). In other words, America was far ahead of Washington on accepting gays and that meant the Democratic candidates would have to step up their game in order to avoid seeming antiquated.

Third, and perhaps paramount in terms of the election, LGBT Americans had cultivated a vibrant blogging community. The Internet had proven to be a fantastic resource for populations that were smaller or underrepresented in mainstream media. Gay people had naturally sought out community through a medium that connected them and catered to them in ways that mainstream media never had. In the 2008 election, as candidates really began to leverage the power of the blogosphere, bloggers took on a major political role that was even more pronounced in the queer world. Sites like Pam's House Blend, run by the ever-pithy Pam Spaulding out of North Carolina, had a distinctly grassroots following, as did the Indiana-based blog, Bilerico Project, run by Bil Browning and Jerame Davis. There were news aggregators like Andy Towle's blog Towleroad in New York, which offered the best in gay from across the web. A number of blogs, like Jeremy Hooper's Good As You and Alvin McEwen's Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters, also specialized in tracking right-wing, virulently anti-LGBT activists. Joe My God, Queerty . . . the list goes on.

Then there was the influential inside-the-Beltway site, AMERICAblog, which covered both LGBT and mainstream news. The editor, John Aravosis, and his deputy editor, Joe Sudbay, were both forty-something gay men who had logged a combined thirty-six years in Washington by the time the 2008 Democratic primary rolled around. Aravosis, a first generation Greek American who spoke five languages, had worked on Capitol Hill for a handful of years as a foreign policy adviser in the late '80s and early '90s before taking a post at the World Bank and eventually landing a job as politics editor for When he founded AMERICAblog in 2004, it quickly gained notoriety as one of the top-rated political blogs, in part because it pulled no punches about Washington politics. In 2005, the left-leaning site MyDD ranked it No. 5 on its list of most-trafficked political blogs, while it registered at No. 9 in PC Magazine's 2008 list of "20 Best Political Web Sites." Sudbay, who hailed from Maine, had written for the site since 2004, though he mainly made his living as a political consultant for liberal causes. Sudbay had cut his teeth in political advocacy working on gun safety issues for six-plus years at Handgun Control, Inc., from 1994–2000.11

The two men would play a key role on LGBT issues during both the election and the forthcoming Obama administration. The relationship they forged with the Obama campaign during the general election, along with the blog's profile in Washington, gave Aravosis and Sudbay unmatched access and leverage among the LGBT blogs at the outset of the administration. They had enough credibility with Washington insiders, along with enough reach into liberal America, to help shape the narrative about how President Obama was faring on a host of progressive concerns and, in particular, LGBT issues.

Their first major encounter with the Obama campaign put the blog on the radar of campaign staffers and foreshadowed a certain tension that would continue once many of those staffers eventually set foot in the White House. That prophetic introduction came in the fall of 2007, at a time when the polls still favored Hillary Clinton. Pundits were beginning to wonder aloud if young senator Obama was mounting a failed primary bid against a Washington powerhouse that was too big to fail. The Obama campaign decided to launch a gospel tour aimed at wooing black voters in the critical primary state of South Carolina, where Clinton was still giving Obama a run for his money with African American Democrats. In fact, a national CNN poll conducted in mid-October 2007 found that among registered black Democrats, Clinton led Obama by 24 points (57 percent to 33 percent).12

On October 19, the Obama campaign blasted out an e-mail announcing that the "40 Days of Faith & Family" tour would show voters "how Barack Obama's family values and faith have shaped his leadership and commitment to bringing all people together around his movement for fundamental change." The campaign's national religious director, Joshua DuBois, boasted, "This is another example of how Barack Obama is defying conventional wisdom about how politics is done."13

Their unity message had one fatal flaw. Among the entertainers the campaign had chosen to headline the tour was a man named Donnie McClurkin, a Grammy Award–winning gospel singer and minister who said he had struggled with same-sex attraction in the past. In 2004, a controversy had arisen over McClurkin's participation in the Republican National Convention due to his assertion that gays could be cured through religious intervention. The Washington Post had reported then that McClurkin had publicly vowed to fight "the curse of homosexuality." And in 2002, McClurkin wrote on a Christian website, "I've been through this and have experienced God's power to change my lifestyle. I am delivered and I know God can deliver others, too."14

But initially, McClurkin's past statements had been missed in the mainstream media. Aravosis caught wind of McClurkin's history and pounced. On AMERICAblog, he noted that "sucking up to anti-gay bigots" and "giving them a stage" was certainly "defying conventional wisdom" about how to get a Democrat elected president. He posted the story on a Saturday morning, a day when most news stories die.15

But the story didn't disappear. That evening, an African American author and political commentator, Earl Ofari Hutchinson, advanced the story with a Huffington Post blog entry titled, "Obama Should Repudiate and Cancel His Gay Bash Tour, and Do It Now."16

Hutchinson charged that Obama had "ripped a page straight from the Bush campaign playbook" by trying to tap into anti-gay sentiment among "blacks in South Carolina, especially black evangelicals," many of whom, he said, openly and quietly "loathe gays." Hutchinson pointed to a Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies poll in 2004 that found blacks opposed gay marriage by a far larger margin than the overall population. The fall 2004 poll found that 46 percent of African Americans opposed any legal recognition of gay relationships while only a little over a third of the general population shared that view. Among black subgroups, fully 62 percent of Christian conservatives rejected any legal recognition for same-sex unions, as did 57 percent of those who lived in the South.17

"Desperate to snatch back some of the political ground with black voters that are slipping away from him and to Hillary," Hutchinson wrote, "Bush's black evangelical card seems like the perfect play."

The post caught people's attention. On Sunday, a number of gay bloggers weighed in. Pam Spaulding led with this simple headline: "Why Is Obama Touring with 'Ex-Gay' Homophobe Donnie McClurkin?" By Monday, it was a full-blown story, with mainstream outlets seeking comment from the candidate. The Associated Press reported that the Human Rights Campaign, the largest national LGBT group, had "urged" Obama to cut ties with the gospel singer.18

Any time the Human Rights Campaign, or HRC, weighed in, it was considered an important measure of where the LGBT community stood on certain issues. HRC, founded in 1980, was the most visible gay rights group in Washington. For many, its logo—a yellow equal sign set against a square blue backdrop—had become a simple statement of support for equality and could be found on bumper stickers across the nation. In 2007, its budget hovered around $40 million, making it the consummate eight-hundred-pound gorilla in the room whenever politicians took up LGBT issues.19

But HRC was also as mainstream as gays could get. It often failed to represent the wide-ranging views of the greater LGBT constituency, which is irrepressibly opinionated and notoriously diverse—including members of every race, religion, ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic class. For years, the counterbalance to HRC had been the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, which had closer to an $8 million budget. The Task Force was further left than HRC and often staked out positions that were at odds with its brawnier counterpart. In the fall of 2007, for instance, a controversy developed around whether the Democratic-led House of Representatives should try to pass a workplace nondiscrimination bill that simply protected gays, lesbians, and bisexuals against being fired (i.e., focused on sexual orientation only) or one that also covered transgender individuals (i.e., was gender identity inclusive). HRC eventually joined the bill's chief sponsor and Washington power broker, openly gay Representative Barney Frank, in supporting passage of the sexual-orientation-only version of the bill. They said it would be easier to pass and would also build momentum for a victorious vote on a transgender-inclusive bill in the next Congress (the GOP controlled the Senate in 2007 and any pro-gay measure would be dead on arrival in that chamber anyway). The Task Force helped lead a coalition of more than three hundred smaller organizations that adamantly opposed leaving transgender Americans behind. Despite those vehement objections, Democratic leadership did finally put the sexual-orientation-only bill to vote and it cleared the House, 235–184.20

But the controversy left a deep rift within LGBT advocacy circles and further solidified the perception that HRC was both supported and run by a richer and less marginalized segment of the greater LGBT community. HRC leaders exhibited a certain elitism, viewing themselves as the real political professionals. All the other advocates were just amateurs, toiling away in the margins. HRC had lobbyists and big extravagant galas, and its leaders relished being Washington "insiders," just like every other sizeable Beltway group. Yet in spite of HRC's supposed Washington prowess, its leadership turned out to be dead wrong about the benefits of passing the workplace protections bill in 2007. The transgender-inclusive bill did not gain momentum in the next Congress—the one that would count historic Democratic majorities in both the upper and lower chambers.

Yet for all HRC's political clout in 2007, they could not move Obama's campaign on the McClurkin question. Over HRC's objection, on Monday night, a campaign spokesman said they had no plans to drop McClurkin from the lineup. Instead, Obama issued a written statement in which he said he believed strongly that African Americans and the LGBT community must "stand together" in the fight for equal rights. "I strongly disagree with Reverend McClurkin's views and will continue to fight for these rights as President of the United States to ensure that America is a country that spreads tolerance instead of division," the statement said.21

If the campaign hoped that would be the end of it, it miscalculated. The controversy roared through the week. On Wednesday, two Obama advisers held a conference call to soothe the campaign's LGBT supporters. They stressed Obama's "unequivocal" support for gay rights and announced that an openly gay minister would be opening the concert tour with a prayer. But the campaign's attempt to smooth over the kerfuffle got bizarrely worse when people learned the gay minister they had chosen to open the black gospel tour was white. Supporters and critics alike were dumbfounded, but none more so than members of the LGBT African American community. Blogger Pam Spaulding, a black lesbian living in the South, called it "mind-boggling" that the campaign had selected a white pastor to address homophobia in the black religious community. "We're talking Politics 101," she wrote. "The last thing a crowd of black folks who have a problem with homosexuality needs is: 1) to be 'told' by the Obama campaign that a message about tolerance must be delivered from a white voice of faith, and 2) to have their beliefs confirmed that being gay is 'a white man's perversion.'"22

The campaign was in serious trouble. They had managed to pit one key Democratic constituency against another—sloppy at best, a fundamental miscalculation at worst—and then they totally bungled the cleanup. Worse still, they had yet to grant a single interview to any reporter from an LGBT outlet, vastly underestimating their influence. I had been chasing them for a cover story for The Advocate magazine for several months. In fact, we had been chasing all three leading candidates—Clinton, Edwards, and Obama—for a cover, but only Clinton had agreed. Her interview with my colleague Sean Kennedy hit the stands as our cover story in October. Nonetheless, I kept asking the Obama camp, relentlessly. Getting an interview with a sought-after politician is a little like being in a bad relationship—you just keep throwing yourself at them again and again until they eventually decide they need you.

Finally, in the midst of this media nightmare, the Obama campaign decided the candidate needed me. A spokesperson e-mailed me to offer a fifteen-minute phone interview that Friday morning. Though the campaign clearly wanted the interview published so they could say that Obama had addressed the debacle head on, they also hoped the story would finally fade into the Friday evening sunset.

I started with the most basic question: Was McClurkin vetted?

"Not vetted to the extent that people were aware of his attitudes with respect to gay and lesbians and LGBT issues," Obama explained, "at least not vetted as well as I would have liked to have seen." He was speaking very slowly and deliberately, with a good number of pauses. As an interviewer, it was painful. I found myself silently cursing his cautious cadence—fifteen minutes would disappear in no time.23

I told the senator that some black gay activists I had spoken with said the McClurkin choice gave them pause about the campaign, even if they generally trusted in Obama himself. "Do they really understand the nuances of these issues?" I said, recounting those conversations; "Are they really sitting down and talking with gay folks? Because it seems like this decision came purely through the lens of faith."


  • "The gay rights movement accomplished the impossible in an impossibly short period of time. From deep in the trenches, Kerry Eleveld introduces us to the agitators and legal strategists who delivered the change few thought possible. Her insider account gives a new generation of activists a roadmap for achieving similar success."—Markos Moulitsas, publisher, Daily Kos
  • "The gay rights movement accomplished the impossible in an impossibly short period of time. From deep in the trenches, Kerry Eleveld introduces us to the agitators and legal strategists who delivered the change few thought possible. Her insider account gives a new generation of activists a roadmap for achieving similar success."—Markos Moulitsas, Publisher, Daily Kos
  • "Kerry Eleveld has written a definitive accounting of how activists, organizations, bloggers, and a handful of devoted journalists compelled the Obama administration to act on gay rights. This book tells an essential truth of progressive change: The arc of the moral universe may bend toward justice, but it does not bend on its own. It must be pushed, by we the people."—David Domke, author of The God Strategy: How Religion Became A Political Weapon in America
  • "Kerry Eleveld is one of the great journalists of this generation, and she was uniquely qualified to cover its most epic civil rights battle. A spectacular writer who loves truth. This book is a riveting story filled with the passion of those that she covered over the years. An epic story told by an epic journalist. It just doesn't get any better!"—David Mixner, author of Stranger Among Friends
  • "[A] smart, sharply observed book.... It's true, as Eleveld says, that [Obama] needed the activists to push, as a matter of politics. And they wrote a script for social change other movements are already studying."—New York Times Book Review
  • "In the years to come, when all people remember are the victory speeches and the White House wrapped in rainbow lights, Don't Tell Me to Wait will serve as an important reminder of the truth of how the battle for equality was fought and of those who deserve the credit for the victory."—Dallas Voice
  • "Eleveld brilliantly takes the reader behind the scenes of the president's evolution on LGBT equality.... While Don't Tell Me to Wait serves as a highly informative piece on how transformation actually occurs in political leadership, it also gracefully teaches us a lesson on our responsibility."—
  • "[Eleveld] tells the story compellingly, with lots of insider details, and the drama political junkies love. She also conveys the urgency many felt about these topics. [Readers] will gain new perspectives from Eleveld's diligence."—Library Journal
  • "[Eleveld] thoroughly tracks the president's hard-won 'evolution' in embracing the national LBGT agenda.... An accomplished chronicle of the setbacks and successes by a journalist in the trenches."—Kirkus Reviews
  • "Kerry Eleveld has written a definitive accounting of how activists, organizations, bloggers, and a handful of devoted journalists compelled the Obama administration to act on gay rights. This book tells an essential truth of progressive change: The arc of the moral universe may bend toward justice, but it does not bend on its own. It must be pushed, by we the people."—David Domke, author of The God Strategy: How Religion Became A Political Weapon in America
  • "Kerry Eleveld is one of the great journalists of this generation, and she was uniquely qualified to cover its most epic civil rights battle. A spectacular writer who loves truth. This book is a riveting story filled with the passion of those that she covered over the years. An epic story told by an epic journalist. It just doesn't get any better!"—David Mixner, author of Stranger Among Friends

On Sale
Oct 6, 2015
Page Count
368 pages
Basic Books

Kerry Eleveld

About the Author

Kerry Eleveld is a freelance political journalist and media consultant. She was the first White House correspondent for an LGBT news outlet, the Advocate, and she currently writes news analysis and reported pieces for outlets like Salon and the Atlantic, as well as a regular column for the Advocate.

She was the recipient of a GLAAD Media Award for her work as the Washington correspondent, and has also received awards from American Veterans for Equal Rights and the National Gay and Lesbian Journalist Association. She has commented on political developments to many news outlets, including PBS Newshour, CNN, MSNBC, Associated Press, and the New York Times. She is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley.

Learn more about this author