Our critics — and other Bush-haters on the gay left (and even a handful of self-described gay Republicans) refuse to acknowledge the president’s mixed record on gay issues. As I have said repeatedly on this blog, while he’s wrong on a constitutional amendment defining marriage, he’s far from the anti-gay demon (many of) his critics have made him out to be.
While you may not know this from reading the gay press, the president has shown a strong commitment to fighting HIV/AIDS. Even Patrick Guerriero, president of Log Cabin, a frequent critic of the president, acknowledged as much. Noting in February that his 2007 budget included “$70 million increase for lifesaving medications and $90 million in new money to provide testing for three million Americans” the Log Cabin leader praised “the President for providing more resources to meet the challenges in treating people with HIV/AIDS.” Guerriero also took note of the President’s plea in his State of the Union address this year for the reauthorization and renewal of the Ryan White CARE Act.
It’s not just the president’s gay critics who acknowledge his record on AIDS. Even a prominent Democrat has praised his efforts to combat this disease. Peter Hughes, one of our readers, e-mailed an article reporting that former President Clinton, speaking at the 16th International Conference on AIDS in Toronto “joined Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates in praising the “President’s Emergency Program for AIDS Relief.”
Clinton said “the United States is spending more to fight HIV than any other government.” And we’re spending that amount when Republicans, holding majorities in both House of Congress and the White House, have power over the federal purse. As long AIDS is a threat to public health remains, this is one area where Congress should not be cutting spending.
The former president said something else with which I strongly agree when he “joined the majority of experts who say abstinence-only programs do not work. Better, he said, are programs that include abstinence counseling as part of a range of options.” Including abstinence counseling, but not making it the be-all and end-all of AIDS prevention, seems the way to approach this touchy subject in our sexually charged culture. When we bring abstinence into a conversation on sexuality, we can better see sexuality as more than a mere longing for pleasure and perhaps begin to get at its deeper meaning.
“Gates, whose Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation gave $500 million last week to the Global Fund to fight AIDS,” said, “The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief has done a great deal of good, and President Bush and his team deserve a lot of credit for it.”
It’s too bad more Democrats and those on the gay left are not more like one of their heroes, having the good sense to acknowledge President Bush’s accomplishments, particularly on issues of concern to our community.