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AIDS Action Celebrates Repeal Of Hiv Military Ban As The End Of Sad Chapter In History Of AIDS Epidemic

Statement of Jay Coburn, Legislative Representative

April 25, 1996

For information, contact:
Jose Zuniga, (202) 986-1300, Ext. 3042

AIDS Action joins in celebration today with its other national partners in the fight to defeat Rep. Robert Dornan's (R-Calif.) blatantly discriminatory provision in the 1996 Department of Defense Authorization Act which mandated the discharge of 1,049 otherwise healthy service members who are HIV-infected. Congress will vote today to pass H.R. 3019, the Omnibus Appropriations bill that contains, among other important provisions, language that will repeal Rep. Dornan's military HIV ban.

The fight to defeat the military HIV ban, both as a community and as a nation, was not an easy one to wage -- it took coalition-building and the strong support of a Congress and of a nation which, once educated about the extremist and un-American nature of Rep. Dornan's provision, made known their desire to right the grievous wrong committed against these patriotic men and women. AIDS Action applauds the leadership of Sens. Mark Hatfield (R-Ore.), Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), Sam Nunn (D-Ga.), William Cohen (R-Maine), and Reps. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), Peter Torkildsen (R-Mass.), Ron Dellums (D-Calif.) and Constance Morella (R-Md.), who heard their constituents' voices and waged a brave battle against the ugly and extremist fringes of American society.

While we are elated at the victory realized today, we cannot help but think that this fight could have been easily avoided. An extremist provision such as the military HIV ban, especially when championed by someone who today attributes congressional action against his provision to "misunderstood mercy," should never have been legislated in the first place. AIDS Action urges Congress to remember the unfortunate lessons learned in fighting to defeat one man's campaign against people living with HIV/AIDS -- a campaign that eventually resulted in the codification of discrimination against a select group of Americans. This must never happen again.

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

AIDS HIV Issues/Policy/AIDS Action Alerts and Press Releases
04/25/96--HandsNet Public Forums--HN3384

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This article was provided by AIDS Action Council.
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