Under Pressure, Conservative Withdraws from AIDS Panel
January 24, 2003
Jerry Thacker, a Christian conservative who has called AIDS the gay plague, withdrew his nomination to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS Thursday under pressure from the Department of Health and Human Services, a senior administration official said. Thacker had come under fire from gay groups and Democrats who criticized his statements as offensive.Adapted from:
In his letter to HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, Thacker said he was withdrawing his name because he was concerned about his ability to work effectively "given the current controversy." Thacker said his statements were taken out of context. "The term 'gay plague' was in vogue in the mid-80's as this disease first took its toll on that population. Obviously, this disease is now found in people of all races, colors, creeds and sexual orientations, so I do not use that term except in describing the historical context," Thacker wrote. Gay groups had also criticized his reference to homosexuality as "the death style."
The White House, which has been criticized by gay groups for what they call its silence on HIV/AIDS, took care to distance President Bush from Thacker's statements. Referring to the description of AIDS as a gay plague, Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said Bush had "a totally opposite view ... people with AIDS need to be treated with care, compassion."
A graduate of Bob Jones University, Thacker operates the Scepter Institute (www.scepter.org), a Christian AIDS ministry. Thacker, a marketing consultant from Fleetwood, Pa., said he contracted AIDS after his wife had been infected through a blood transfusion during the delivery of their third child. In his letter, Thacker said he is not anti-gay, but anti-HIV.
Democrats and gay groups welcomed his withdrawal. Gay leaders also welcomed the White House remarks that opposed Thacker's statements on AIDS, but nonetheless took the opportunity to criticize the president for appointing panel members who advocate abstinence as the sole means to fight AIDS.
New York Times
01.24.03; Elisabeth Bumiller
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.