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AIDS Action Council Denounces As Shameful Military HIV Ban Proposed By Republican Majority, To Be Signed Today By Clinton

January 26, 1996

AIDS Action Network Alert

The AIDS community applauded President Clinton's veto in December of the FY 1996 Department of Defense Authorization bill (S. 1124), because of a provision championed by Rep. Bob Dornan (R-Calif.), and Senators Dan Coats (R-Ind.) and Trent Lott (R-Miss.) that would mandate the immediate discharge of 1,150 otherwise healthy active duty service members who are HIV-infected. This action reverses current DoD policy originally developed by the Reagan administration that allows HIV-positive personnel to continue to serve their country. This new measure will deny HIV-infected service members medical and disability benefits made available to other service members retired for medical reasons. AIDS advocates have urged the American public to join with the President in denouncing as extremist this discriminatory provision and in advocating for its removal from such a vital piece of legislation. Sadly, AIDS Action today joins other AIDS advocacy groups in denouncing as shameful the congressional leadership for allowing such an un-American measure to proceed through the legislative process. Additionally, we are deeply troubled that the Clinton administration failed to insist that the Dornan provision be stricken from the defense bill and that President Clinton has acquiesced to codify this provision by signing into law a revised defense bill complete with the military HIV ban.

It is shameful that Bob Dornan, Dan Coats, and Trent Lott cajoled their congressional colleagues into including in the defense bill this unconscionable ban. We are disappointed that the President of the United States intends to sign his name to a bill that would, through this extremist provision, cut short the military careers of these patriotic men and women who have served our country proudly and with distinction. AIDS Action urges President Clinton, at the very least, to right some of the terrible wrong committed by taking bold administrative steps to guarantee these soon-to-be discharged service members access to the same medical care and disability compensation afforded to other service members retired for medical reasons. We also urge members of Congress never again to consider, much less legislate into law, such extremist measures devoid of public health and public policy rationale. Today marks a dark day in the history of the AIDS epidemic. Rational public policy on this issue is an orphan in Washington--and it is now up to the President to right as much of this wrong as he can.

Founded in 1984, AIDS Action Council is the only national organization devoted solely to shaping federal AIDS policy. AIDS Action represents more than 1,000 community-based AIDS service organizations throughout the United States.

For more information, contact:
Josi Zuniga
AIDS Action Council
1875 Connecticut Avenue NW #700
Washington DC 20009
202-986-1300 ext. 3042
202-986-1345 (fax)
202-332-9614 (tty)

Mark Barnes is executive director of AIDS Action Council. Founded in 1984, AIDS Action represents more than 1,000 community-based AIDS service organizations nationwide, and is the only national organization devoted solely to lobbying the federal government on AIDS policy, legislation and funding.

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This article was provided by AIDS Action Council.
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