Presidential AIDS Council Appointee Declines Position

The Bush administration’s selection of right wing, homophobic, religious extremist Jerry Thacker to serve on the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS (PACHA) stirred intense controversy Thursday, prompting Thacker to ultimately decline the appointment, reported the Washington Post. Seven new appointees, including Thacker, were to be sworn in next week to the 35-member commission, responsible for advising the president on AIDS prevention and treatment policies.

Opponents expressed outrage at the administration’s latest affront. Thacker, a marketing consultant from Pennsylvania and alumni of the notoriously conservative Bob Jones University, has called AIDS a “gay plague.” In addition, materials he has authored term homosexuality a “deathstyle” instead of lifestyle and urge gays and lesbians to embrace Christianity to free them from their “sin,” according to the Washington Post. Thacker himself contracted AIDS from his wife, who became infected from a blood transfusion.

“President Bush needs to explain how compassionate conservatism seems to include the offensive, bigoted views of Mr. ThackerÉ It’s the stealth administration at work again to please the right wingÉ [Thacker’s] brand of reactionary gay bashing has no place in public policy and government,” stated Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) according to FoxNews. Speaking after Thacker’s rejection, David Smith of the lesbian and gay rights advocacy group Human Rights Campaign said, “While this is a positive development, the underlying problem continues to remain with this administration’s approach to HIV and AIDS… Their obsessive focus on abstinence as the solitary mechanism to prevent the transmission of HIV is not based in sound science. They continue to come from an ideological perspective as opposed to a scientific perspective,” reported FoxNews.

Meanwhile, in an incredulous attempt at damage control, White House press secretary Ari Fliesher explained, “The views that [Thacker] holds are far, far removed from what the president believesÉ The president’s view is that people with AIDS need to be treated with care, compassion,” according to FoxNews.


Kaisernetwork.org 1/23/03; FoxNews.com 1/24/03; Washington Post 1/23/03; Associated Press 1/23/03

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