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'Don't Turn Back Clock' says Names Project Founder

Bush Could Be Worse than His Father on AIDS Issues

Texas Governor Never Gives Mention to the AIDS Crisis

Compiled By GayToday

San Francisco, California-- Cleve Jones, founder of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt and the author of the recently published Stitching a Revolution (Harper-Collins) has sounded a wake-up warning call about what voters might expect from a George W. Bush presidency.

Jones, a hard-working, highly-respected gay and AIDS activist for three decades, has released a chilling history of how AIDS issues languished under former President Bush, prolonging the genocidal neglect of the Reagan era.
gwbushaids.jpg - 12.52 K GOP presidential candidate GeorgeW. Bush and the Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt

Addressing gay and lesbian America, the AIDS community and friends, Jones said:

“A few weeks ago most of the media and much of the nation got a bit of a chuckle when George W. Bush, unaware that his microphone was on, referred audibly to a New York Times reporter as a "major league asshole" and running mate Dick Cheney gamely agreed, "Oh, yeah, big time."

“Most of my friends thought the incident was amusing, but when I saw the exchange repeated on the evening news, I felt a cold sense of dread and the chill of an ugly memory.

“It reminded me of 1987, when the International AIDS Conference convened in Washington, DC and George W's father, then Vice-president George Bush, addressed the assembled thousands of international AIDS researchers and scientists.

“The epidemic had been raging for five years and almost 40,000 Americans had already been diagnosed with the new disease and over 20,000 had died, but the Reagan/Bush administration had yet to so much as utter the word "AIDS". Now their silence was finally to be broken and physicians, researchers, activists, scientists and people with AIDS waited anxiously for the historic moment to arrive.

"We were disappointed, of course. Reagan and Bush called for massive, even compulsory, testing but rejected calls for massive prevention education. They closed our borders to infected travelers but passed by the opportunity to call for compassion and calm. They uttered not one word about the civil rights of HIV-positive people and defended their miserly allocations to AIDS research, education and care. "At the conclusion of Vice-president Bush's remarks, the auditorium erupted with boos and shouted insults, not from ACT-UP or the handful of gay activists present, but from scientists and doctors outraged by the gross politicization of a health crisis. While leaving the podium, unaware his microphone was still on, Vice-president Bush snarled to an assistant, 'What is this, some gay rights group?'

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Related Sites:
Names Project: AIDS Memorial Quilt

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“The following year, campaigning with a theme of 'kinder, gentler' conservatism and invoking images of 'a thousand points of light', George Bush won the Presidency and went on to continue Ronald Reagan's failed economic policies, neglect for public health and contempt for gay and lesbian Americans. Four years later a wiser and weary nation repudiated the Reagan/Bush doctrines, elected Bill Clinton and Al Gore, and set the course for eight years of unparalleled prosperity.

“Bill Clinton and Al Gore shared their vision of America with us and told gay and lesbian people that we were a part of that vision. They reached out to all of America's minority communities and set a tone of respect and inclusion which many of us have come to take for granted.

“While there have been disagreements and some notable disappointments, the Clinton/Gore years saw real progress in the fight against AIDS, enormous strides in gay/lesbian equality and new levels of economic growth benefiting middle and low-income people as well as the wealthy.

“Bill Clinton and Al Gore brought their families to the National Mall for the unfolding of the AIDS Memorial Quilt and walked with us among the acres of fabric, finding there the names of many cherished friends and associates. This opportunity for a simple statement of respect and compassion was refused five times by their Republican predecessors.

“Now George W. Bush, cloaked in the rhetoric of 'compassionate conservatism', is hoping to turn back the clock, counting on the short memory of America's voters. Among his advisors are the same old cast of right-wing religious conservatives, the Gary Bauers and Ralph Reeds and Pat Robertsons. Governor Bush echoes their hateful rhetoric of exclusion every time he refers to employment and housing protection for gay people as 'special rights'.

“Among the 50 states, Texas ranks fourth in AIDS cases but in his seven and one-half years in office Governor Bush has never publicly mentioned AIDS. Through three legislative sessions, Governor Bush and the Texas Republicans have approved no additional state funds for prevention education and no new AIDS initiatives whatsoever. The Texas sodomy statute is still on the books and still being enforced. Hate crime legislation is bottled up in committee, blocked by Governor Bush and the Republican leadership.

“And during the primaries, when Governor Bush felt threatened by Arizona Senator John McCain's campaign, he unleashed his attack dogs to publicly savage Senator McCain for simply agreeing to meet with representatives of the gay/lesbian Log Cabin Republican Club, despite McCain's disavowal of the Log Cabin Club's agenda.

“But the greatest danger facing the American gay/lesbian/bisexual community of a George W. Bush presidency will be his likely nominations to the United States Supreme Court, where many of the crucial issues affecting gay people will ultimately be decided for decades to come.

“That legacy will determine not only the fate of gay rights legislation but also the interpretation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, so important to the security of people living with HIV/AIDS. Equally frightening: the right to reproductive choice, which has been taken for granted by generations of American women, will be lost under a Bush Supreme Court eager to overturn Roe v. Wade.

“Many younger gay/lesbian/bisexual Americans simply don't remember the bad old days. They take for granted our growing acceptance and the rights we have fought so hard to achieve. They don't seem to understand that hundreds and thousands of brave, ordinary people sacrificed careers, families, even their lives in the struggle for gay rights, reproductive choice and gender equity.

“Al Gore and Joe Lieberman have seized every opportunity to stand with the gay community. Right down the line, on issue after issue, the Democratic Party supports us and the Republican Party opposes us. This is not a matter of opinion, but an unassailable political fact. One need only to scan the platforms of the two parties for clear proof of the vast difference between them on these issues.

“On November 7, 2000, our rights and our lives will be on the ballot. We can't afford to sit out this election, or to waste our power with protest votes.

“We need leaders who will speak of compassion not only when they know the microphones are on, but who will lead compassionately when the microphones and cameras are turned off. Leaders willing to speak out against hate and discrimination, leaders ready to fight the spread of AIDS at home and in the developing world, leaders who truly believe in the promise of American democracy for all our citizens.

“We need Al Gore and Joe Lieberman in the White House and Democrats in Congress. Vote Democratic on Tuesday, November 7th.”

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