1. Bill T says

    Shame on her – I’m tired of all the apologies after this type of garbage spews from mouths with an international publishing forum. She should resign.

  2. Michael @ says

    THIS is the Obama Shill Servicemembers United imagined their sincerity would convince the President to reverse his betrayal of gays in the military????

  3. BenB says

    I wrote an angry message about how she must never have spoken to a gay person before, but I deleted it because my anger reserves are depleted enough as it is. Mostly I’m just sad how such easily disprovable bullshit persists.

    Valerie: There is not a person on the planet who chose to be LGBT. For a start, why would someone do such a stupid thing, knowing that they would suffer years of discrimination, contempt and second rate treatment from their peers, to constantly have inflammatory and defamatory lies spread about them? Think before you speak. No-one chooses; it’s a core aspect of our identity as individuals, not a haircut.

  4. TANK says

    LOL! Fierce idiots. This is who HRC chose to give a speech at their drinkin’ party. She’s clearly ignorant, though I’d be hesitant to call her a bigot based on this serious stupidity… I’d say her familiarity with gay people is the movie cruising…or pathetic drunken a-list jellyfish at a fundraiser. She’s a longtime close personal/family friend of the obamas, too.

  5. peterparker says

    What a fucking moron! I think the Obama Administration might be more out of touch with GLBT issues than the George W. Bush Administration. The only difference is that Obama and Co. is not actively working to deny us our civil rights. Oh, wait….

  6. BenB says

    As to Democrats rejecting supporting Obama, well, indeed. Obama has been, on civil rights issues especially those pertaining to LGBT people (as well as many issues besides) an enormous bag of hot air that gradually inflated during his campaign and immediately burst upon inauguration, even effectively redacting his support for gay marriage. But who was the alternative?

  7. TANK says

    You can’t sustain a political campaign based on “we pretty much suck…but they suck even more!” Lots of dems, including obama (if you’d heard his speech in philadelphia last week), don’t seem to understand that.

  8. AERES says

    Amazing. Even more so that this is one of Obama’s closest “advisors” – and not just on a narrow portfolio – but pretty much anything and everything domestic and/or politically charged.

    I wonder how long memories will be in our community come 2012 when the hat gets passed around for more LGBT $$$.

    Its one thing to vote Democratic – its an entirely other thing to fund it.

    Hopefully the next time around people will actually look to a candidate’s record – and not fall victim to rhetoric and mass hysteria.

  9. Balbo1 says

    She was clearly speaking in support of bullied gay teenagers. The controversy here is over her not using politically correct language.

    Yes, to refer to being gay as a “lifestyle choice” is inaccurate, but it is not intended (in this case) to be insulting. I’ve known some very pro-gay heterosexuals and seen them speak out against homophobia when it was inopportune for them to do so — and they used the word “alternative lifestyle” when doing so. It made me cringe, as it does here, but to them it’s considered to be a nice way of saying “gay”.

    It’s like saying “pro-choice” instead of pro-abortion. The idea is that choice… is good! We should respect the lifestyles of other people. Of course, when a gay person hears that, we say, I didn’t choose this! And homophobic types constantly point out that it’s a bad choice. But try to understand the context.

  10. Jaybird89101 says

    Lifestyle “choice”? And she was HRC’s dinner speaker “choice” to rep our strong advocate who resides in the White House?? The Dems have truly screwed the GLBT community for the two years they’ve been in complete control of two branches of the Federal government. It’s only the third branch – over which they’ve no direct control – that seems to be siding with us on GLBT civil rights issues. So much for spending GLBT time, dollars and votes on the politicos!

  11. MrRoboto says

    Reminds me of an old high school friend of mine who recently self-published a book and sent me a copy. He was so proud of himself, living in West Virginia as he has for the last twenty or so years, and still maintaining a liberal streak, which included his support of, and I quote: “gays, feminists, Afro-Americans [!], Mexicans [he meant Hispanics!!], Orientals [!!!], Arabs, and everybody else.”

    I wrote him back and said that while I appreciated his pride in being “liberal,” his West Virginia showed through quite glaringly. I quoted his sentence above and suggested he do a little Googling to find out how much he’d marred his laudible message with retrograde and potentially offensive terminology. I haven’t heard back yet, so I think I really confused him.

  12. Nobby54 says

    Those calling for her to be fired should chill. It doesn’t help anyone’s cause to be so reactionary. Her words were ill chosen, but not hate filled. I’m always shocked when people say they won’t vote for Democrats again over small gaffes like this. Consider the alternatives. There are people out there who REALLY hate you. Also, for those who post racist comments here, don’t you see the irony of what you’re saying/doing/thinking?

  13. occono says

    Haven’t watched the video, but in the context of the quote, it looks like just a bad choice of words. Really not worth getting that angry about, have you ever use a phrase someone found un-PC without thinking?

    I’m not defending the Obama administration for genuine misgivings, but this is not one of them.

  14. ohplease says

    BALBO1, surely you don’t mean a word you typed. Using “politically correct” as an excuse for using language that’s insulting to a group is ridiculous. That’s never okay.

    Saying it’s okay because her heart was in the right place is, at best, infantile. So if she had called dead gay teens “faggots” that would have been cool with you as long as she meant well? Of course not. And you don’t excuse this insult by saying it’s okay because she’s a moron.

    And “… a nice way of saying gay”? Hey, here’s an idea: how about saying “gay”? That’s a whole two syllables less than her way of saying it and it’s what gay people actually say about themselves. How is it nice not to refer to people correctly, accurately, respectfully or honestly?

  15. adamblast says

    I agree that she’s trying to be supportive. The point is she’s doing a piss-poor job of it, while betraying that her mindset has largely been formed by our enemies. People can only be educated when they want to be, and the White House & staff have little or no interest in gay equality.

  16. says

    The White House only pays lip service to “supporting” GLBT rights. They’ll only do the minimum amount necessary to prevent a total, mass revolt of all GLBT people. They don’t really care about our problems because, as Jett just pointed out, they don’t really understand them. We need someone who truly gets our problems if we’re to see real change. It’s clear — though sad — that the Obama White House is just out of touch. The best we can say about it is it’s better than a McCain White House, although only marginally so.

  17. Hue-Man says

    How can you expect them to walk the walk when they can’t even talk the talk? The bullies’ vocabulary just got White House stamp of approval: “Why did you choose to be HOMOsexual? Why didn’t you choose a normal lifestyle? What HOMOsexual taught you to choose the HOMOsexual lifestyle?” etc. ad nauseum.

  18. RDRCK says

    Oh come on, it’s obviously just a poor choice of words. If you think that this sort of comment justifies firing her, changing political parties, etc., you’re delusional.

    Poor word choice, even poorer response by readers on this website.

  19. Skeptical Cicada says

    Please don’t call her things like “stupid bitch.” It’s disgusting and hypocritically sexist.

    That said, I cannot emphasize enough how disappointed I am that the top administration people are so ignorant of anything about the gay community that the incredibly offensive “lifestyle choice” comes out of their mouths.

    OMG. Do they honestly not know anyone at all who is gay?

  20. Arthur says

    She’s the real president, I believe. Obama just goes out and gets the crowds “fired up.” I am surprised the conservative attack machine hasn’t gone after her with all its might except that she’s probably well aligned there as well. She’s made my skin crawl since the first time I heard her voice. Pure evil, with or without her lifestyle comment.

  21. SteveC says

    I accept that she may not have intended to be so ignorant and offensive in her words. But she works for an administration that has not kept a single promise which it made to the LGBT community.

    THAT’S the context in which I view Jarrett’s pig-ignorant comments.

  22. steve talbert says

    The choice of words betrays their true feelings. They think being gay is a choice. This is why they probably don’t put it on the front burner and are bending over for the religious right on this issue.

  23. interglossa says

    I am often told that gay twenty-somethings no longer feel that being gay is defining for them. The bullying wave is a reminder that sexual orientation will continue to define people’s lives for a long time to come. Jarrett’s comments are disappointing but we already knew that the gay and black communities often are challenged in understanding each other even on the best days.

  24. mcNnyc says

    BASH her…she is wrong…
    BUT F^Ck Johnathan Capehart! He is OPENLY GAY why didnt HE call her on it right then and there?

    Write him at the homophobic Washington Post and ask HIM to explain it.

    Oh and HRC Killed my cat not one penny more.

  25. CKNJ says

    I agree it was bad choice of words but before wanting to throw her out and destroy the Democrats (jeez, guys take a chill pill), remember she was talking IN SUPPORT of bullied teens. Let’s not get our panties in a bunch with the people that SUPPORT us… we need to reserve that bile for Paladino etc. And all those ‘sitting the election out’ or ‘not voting Democrat again’ etc etc I am sure you will LOVE the alternative, won’t you? Ugh!

  26. BobN says

    I’m sure that given proper coaching she would have used the “correct” term. Then you guys would be bitching about some other minor slight.

    Being gay isn’t a choice. Being out is a lifestyle choice.

    Besides, WE were the first ones to use the word “lifestyle” to describe ourselves way back in the 70s. Then we switched to “sexual preference”. Then we finally got around to “sexual orientation” (which is more logical and true).

    Go ahead, tear her a new one because she’s a couple decades behind. And take your money to that other party whose candidates still call us “perverts”.

  27. Balbo1 says

    The Democratic Party views gays as a reliable source of cash in urban areas, and not much more. Their failure to act (besides ending the HIV travel ban — which Bush supported — and passing a hate crimes bill that has yet to see a single prosecution) shows an utter lack of principle. To the commenter who said we should vote for them anyways, because the Republicans are so much worse, you’re essentially engaging in a form of blackmail. The Democrats DO NOT deserve our votes until they’re willing to prove it. The burden is on them.

    OHPLEASE, there’s a big difference between a slur like “faggot” and a mealy-mouthed phrase like “lifestyle choice”. One is clearly offensive, while the other is intended to be nice but is instead impolitic and a bit ignorant. Now, I agree with most of your argument. People should just say “gay” and be done with it. It’s correct, accurate and expresses a connection to what we are.

    But again, a lot of pro-gay heterosexuals use terms like “lifestyle choice” and “alternative lifestyle” because it sounds positive to them. It’s like saying you support people making choices, and that choices are good. It’s a bit like saying “African American” instead of “black”. Most blacks would rather be called black. Black is beautiful, after all! And “African American” is prone to inaccuracies — not all blacks in America are African American, for one. And there are blacks who are not of African descent. It’s not necessarily and overtly offensive, in my view, but it can be patronizing.

    I’m the kind of gay who tends to cringe and say, quietly, next time please don’t say that! But I can’t get upset by it. I’m more embarrassed by it. I don’t think it’s OK, and I don’t excuse it, I just try to understand the context and where the person saying it is coming from.

  28. David says

    I haven’t donated to HRC for a while because I am so disappointed in this organization and this past one year and half just pushed me over the edge. I donate pretty decent amount of money for a 20s something white collar and I want to donate to people who deserve it.

    I just wrote an email to HRC and made a very strong point that they will not receive a penny from me anymore.

    It really makes me angry and it is not just this one incident. It’s been such a long build up.

    It is ironic that they wanted to become a force in Washington to further our issues by playing their games and the game completely consumed them. It is tragic.

  29. Balbo1 says

    Good point BOBN!

    It’s my understanding that we used to frown on suggestions that our gayness was biologically determined, because the homophobes were going on about how homosexuality was a problem with our very nature and being. By making a choice, we suddenly had agency and could live life on our own terms. By making a choice to be gay, we could determine the lives we lead without the permission of straight people. This was also during a time when homosexuality was thought to be a form of retardation or a mental disorder.

    This changed once science began to suggest that homosexuality may be biologically determined after all, and this does seem more accurate — objectively and from my own life experience. The homophobes now don’t say our nature is corrupted, but that we’ve made the wrong choice.

    Ultimately, however, it doesn’t matter if it is a choice or not, because it doesn’t change the fact that there is nothing wrong with what we do and who we love.

  30. Alpha says

    Sounds like she’s lacking experience and doesn’t really know what she’s talking about. I guess at least she’s trying. Perhaps the problem is that “tolerance” isn’t the answer. We should be shooting for “it’s not even an issue.” I wonder what people would think if kids were getting beat up for being Christian.

  31. Joe says

    I don’t think she at all meant it how it sounds, but wow, that slip up is not only embarrassing but very very telling.

    Now I understand why this white house is so slow to move on issues that 75% of Americans agree on and ones that nearly 50% of Americans support. Because, while being gay might not be a choice, being openly gay and proud is a choice that one doesn’t have to make.

    Sorry, but if Gay activist(like the HRC) had any clue what they were doing they would demand huge things from the white house and make a huge stink. The Obama admin is already on our shitlist and now Jarrett does this. Fool.

  32. Skeptical Cicada says

    Okay, previously here I criticized people for being too condemnatory of Jarrett over the remark.

    But now let me say something about you sycophant apologists. The fact that Valerie Jarrett is known to be the most liberal of the close advisers yet AND is the one in charge of “public engagement” YET, though supportive, is so manifestly ignorant of the norms of our community and hence our community itself CANNOT BE DISMISSED AS INSIGNIFICANT. On the contrary, the level of unfamiliarity and ignorance that the term “lifestyle choice” exposes is extremely disheartening and troubling.

    There is no sugar-coating how bad this revealing gaffe is. It tells us how we should be interpreting everything this presidency does on our issues–that decisions are being made by people with almost no real familiarity with the gay community.

  33. BCLance says

    “Skeptical Cicada: There is no sugar-coating how bad this revealing gaffe is. It tells us how we should be interpreting everything this presidency does on our issues–that decisions are being made by people with almost no real familiarity with the gay community.”

    Absolutely right. In my letter to the White House, I called the attitude cheerful disinterest. Let’s criticize them for those things for which they should be criticized. That’s measured and reasonable. Calling her a “bitch” or “pure evil” as some other commenters have done is just disgraceful.

  34. AJ says

    I’m the first person to fly off the handle and get pissed, but I honestly don’t think this is something to get that riled up about. We’re mincing words here. This woman is not the enemy. Our anger needs to be focused on people who outright say vicious horrible things and there are plenty of them right now.

  35. David says

    You have to cut her a little bit of slack. Did she say something that was wrong yes absolutely we all have to realize that being gay is not a choice. But remember shes in her mid-50s and how many of us reading Towleroad have mothers who are supportive and understand that being gay is not a choice will still say that is because thats what they are used to thinking.

  36. JT - the original says

    I find her use of the term annoying, but it doesn’t rise to the level of pain that I felt when President-elect Obama had Pastor Warren at his inauguration, or when Senator Obama expressed his opposition to equal rights for gay people (called “marriage”) or when President Obama dithered on DADT. Ms. Jarrett used a term that, I confess, I’ve used myself in the past…under the influence of lots of bourbon, I might add.

  37. jimbo says

    Give the gal a break here. She is just a tad ignorant. It reminded me of a time YEARS back I was chatting with some folks, one of whpm was Asian. Someone used the term “oriental” and the Asian gal simply said “you sound more intelligent when you say Asian”. Learning moment for the guy and no feathers were ruffled. I’ve sent Val an email. I’m sure she’ll make a “lifestyle choice” and use the appropriate terminology next time. This is not a lynching moment people…….

  38. says

    I think is Valerie Jarrett were just a random women of her generation, those people saying this is not a big deal would be absolutely right. And I think those people calling for her to be fired are over-reacting. I think this interview makes a better case for Jonathan Capehart to be fired, although since the organization he works for, The Washington Post, uses him as a cover for their hostility to gay people, I’m sure they view his performance here as exemplary. If anyone knows Capehart, though, would they ask him these questions:
    1) Why did he decide not to challenge Jarrett on her use of term “lifestyle choice” to describe sexual orientation?
    2) Why did he choose to ask her not one single challenging question regarding the Obama administration’s record thus far on gay rights?
    3) How does he justify working for a paper that thinks it has to run an editorial from a vicious anti-gay bigot if they do a video chat suggesting that gay kids should not be bullied to death?

    And– as for Jarrett– I hope everyone here will contact the White House and let them know why Jarrett’s remark is troubling: this administration has no openly gay people in its cabinet or in any policy positions. It has no one person whose job it is to represent our interests. This incident points up that that strategy has failed. The White House has not bothered to learn how to speak respectfully about gay people. The President needs an openly gay person on his Cabinet, in a position related to gay rights, to teach them who we are, how to talk about us, and what we need. The president loves to talk about teachable moments. Shouldn’t this be one?

  39. Sean says

    Count me among the ones who think this is a big deal and here’s why:

    We have no voice in the inner circle of the White House. If Valerie Jarrett is our point person and she doesn’t know enough not to use such a phrase, then we are truly screwed. Obama’s tone deaf on our issues because he has ZERO gay senior White House staffers, ZERO gay cabinet members. Obama works in an office where he probably sees no gay people throughout the course of his day. Can you imagine such an office in America today?

    Yes, it’s just a phrase and yes her remarks were well intended. But the phrase displays such sweeping ignorance — it’s like a civil rights advocate talking about ‘colored people’ — I can only conclude she’s very poorly informed on LGBT issues. And thus the President is poorly informed on those issues.

  40. gayalltheway says

    I’m literally pulling my hair out when I was reading this.

    Spending ridiculous amount of money on clothes, cars, vacations, etc IS a “lifestyle choice”.

    Being a vegetarian IS a “lifestyle choice”.

    Going to gym regularly to stay fit and healthy IS a “lifestyle choice”.

    Being attracted to a person of the same gender IS NOT A LIFESTYLE CHOICE!!!!!

  41. mcNnyc says

    all the crazy commenters here make me SICK.
    UNTIL you hold GAY PEOPLE to the same standard….why didn’t the HOMO reporter…yes that’s right He’s OPENLY GAY ask her about it…why didn’t HE school her?
    Evil bad Obama.
    And Greg…PLEASE how do you know someone didn;t see the video or if it was deliberate?

  42. Michele K says

    @balbo It isn’t JUST what this spokesperson for the President said that has angered our Community. It is the consistant, persistant double speak from the President himself.
    On the one hand he is for total equality for GLBT Persons, yet on the other hand he and Joe biden are against Gay Marriage (only “civil unions” for the Queer Set!).
    You can’t have your Justice Department stand in the way of LEGALY MARRIED Gay and Lesbians getting Social Security benifits for their families AND be for Equal Rights.
    I feel betrayed and I will not vote in November. I will not vote for Obama for a second term. He has been an abject dissapointment

  43. AERES says

    Sorry – but this is inexcusable. This isn’t some half-wit chief of staff to some state legislator – this is one of the closest advisors to the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, whose advice and input is relied on nearly every major issue.

    Add to that she’s a longtime and VERY close friend of the Obamas.

    This isn’t some minor slip up or gaffe – its a window into the very heart of the deliberative process inside the White House.

    And if anyone thinks this doesn’t reflect exactly how the people running this administration view the LGBT community – you’re being willfully ignorant.

  44. Steve says

    Don’t just write an angry comment. Call the White House at 202/456-1414 and demand an apology from President Obama.

    Being gay is no more a lifestyle choice than Ms. Jarrett’s being black is a lifestyle choice. Obama needs to be called on this, and Valerie Jarrett needs to resign.

  45. VAVA says

    Wow, seriously? She spends her time sticking up for gays and talking about how horrible the suicides are and then you nit-pick one part? She’s obviously not trying to be homophobic – she’s a big supporter of gay rights. This post just makes me sad for people that would even get angry over it.

  46. Mike B. says

    I hope that all Democrats regret choosing Obama.

    As disappointed as I often am by this administration…does anyone seriously think Hillary would have been a bolder, braver president?

    The last Democrat to have any fight was Howard Dean.

  47. RED DEVIL says

    I knew some faggot was going to do it and they did
    I guess Ms. Jarrett made a lifestyle choice to be a stupid, black woman.

    Posted by: Faulkner | Oct 13, 2010 7:57:40 PM

    You dumb faggot she is of Iranian decent NOT AFRICAN!

  48. justaguy says

    As long as this woman influences/controls policy, we don’t have a prayer. Words mean things. And if a supposed friend articulates gay = “lifestyle choice,” that person is not mentally equipped to be an advocate for LGBT causes. She needs a mindset shift and she needs it now. But to be the President’s advisor on these issues, she shouldn’t have to NOW go through the mindset shift.

    I say dump her. Dump her now. Please.

  49. adamblast says

    She is trying to be our ally. At least in *her* head.

    AND she used a code phrase of our enemies, displaying a poor knowledge at best of what the culture wars feel like from our side.

    AND the anger that’s erupted over it may well be overblown, a function of the pent up frustration we feel over the events of the past month and lack of progress overall.

    AND I don’t care. They deserve all the heat they get at this point.

  50. FunMe says

    I rarely say bad words. Call it reactionary, I don’t care.

    F*** YOU BITCH!

    May she rot in hell, her living hell, for being so STUPID. I beyond words how anyone would call being gay a “lifestyle” choice.


  51. LG Wilson says

    The only thing more sickening than this is the simpering queen apologists on here who defend her with the ‘at least it wasn’t hate filled’ as if that’s some sort of consolation. Now we’re expected to be content when ppl don’t hate us…even if they are grossly misinformed.
    Anyone who uses the archaic term of ‘lifestyle choice’ has no place as a ‘Senior White House advisor’. Send this dumb twunt home.

  52. Al says

    “Really not worth getting that angry about, have you ever use a phrase someone found un-PC without thinking?”

    People who use the term, “un-PC”, are just assholes who don’t want to be criticized for being as such.

  53. JR says

    I know her personally…She is most certainly an advocate – this is a poor choice of words. I’m sorry this was taken out of context. This is as shameful as Bill O’Reilly or Breitbart taking words out of context.

    Look at her YEARS of action, not one time she misspoke.

  54. HA!! says

    I have read alot of people here saying poor choice of words. REALLY?? If it was Sharon Angle, Sarah Palin or any woman from the previous administration, there would be howling and the rending of garments….PLease.

  55. Hass says

    It’s quite silly to get all high and mighty about this kind of stuff.

    Do we want people to actually learn or for people to get all defensive, cover their ears and call us a bunch of whingers?

    Can’t we take a more rational and constructive tone, where we thank Ms Jarrett for her support while still asking her to step back and think about what she said (and why her words have consequences)?

    The reason this is an issue at all is because her choice of words perpetuates a mistruth. It’s not just some forbidden phrase, like a curse word – it’s a phrase with consequences.

    Most people aren’t gay. They don’t instinctively “get it”, but many of them are trying. Ms Jarrett needs to try a little harder, but she doesn’t need to have a whole heap of vitriolic and judgemental abuse dropped on her.

  56. Mrs. Sippi says

    There’s “not being PC” and then there’s not knowing the issue well enough to make an educated and critically minded statement. Using the phrase “lifestyle choice” shows a lack of depth on GLBT issues, a lack of understanding of our history, and a lack of personal connection to the realities of GLBT lives. The “PC” argument on either side gets used often in such cases of ignorance and separation from GLBT peoples. We can expect better from our leaders.

    Last, there are people who are GLBT who believe they made a choice. It’s not the argument I lead with, but I want them to have every piece of equality due to us as humans and care not to play games with their oppression. So what if it is a choice for some. Again, this does not excuse her comments as many of us believe and I would say know that our sexuality is so innate. Again, I expect better from people with the mic.

    I also should expect better from HRC, but have given up on them. Once again they are star struck, slow to anger, and so inside baseball that they don’t realize they are playing with the wrong bat.

  57. jtbnyc says

    WTF???!!! Can you believe she said this. Boy does that drive home why this administration has been all words and no action. What an idiot to “sit on the right-hand-of-Obama”. I am so depressed.

  58. David Jordan says


    I am stunned.
    This woman is a disgrace.
    Obama is a disgrace.
    The HRC is a disgrace.
    The Dems have lost my vote.
    Posted by: SteveC | Oct 13, 2010 5:58:11 PM

    For me Valerie used a bad choice of words, but she wasn’t being mean spirited. But, you just spoke about Obama, HRC and Valeria are a disgrace and the Dems have lost your vote.

    Well you could always go and vote for Paladino and the rest of the GOP clan who are out front supporting Gay and Lesbians issues and not trying to block gay issues like ENDA and DADT.

    Ummm, under Obama “Hate Crimes has been extended to include Gays and Lesbians and Federal Employees had their benefits to include their respective Gay and Lesbian partners”.

  59. David Jordan says

    @ Peterparker

    What a fucking moron! I think the Obama Administration might be more out of touch with GLBT issues than the George W. Bush Administration. The only difference is that Obama and Co. is not actively working to deny us our civil rights. Oh, wait….

    Posted by: peterparker | Oct 13, 2010 6:00:47 PM

    Please remind of any gay and lesbian issues passed under Bush & Co? Oh, I believe you forgot under Obama 1) Hate Crimes was extended to include gays and lesbians 2) Federal Employees had their benefits extended to their respective Gay & Lesbian partners.

    You could always go and vote for Paladino…

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