Statement On Clinton Signing Of Department Of Defense Aids Bill

February 09, 1996

The White House has said President Clinton will sign into law tomorrow, Saturday, Feb. 10, the $265 billion 1996 defense authorization bill that includes a provision requiring the discharge of military personnel with HIV or AIDS. The press has reported today the President believes the law is "unconstitutional" and "completely abhorrent and offensive." Following is the statement of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF), the nation's oldest gay and lesbian civil rights organization. The statement is attributable to Melinda Paras, NGLTF executive director.

We are disappointed that President Clinton has not used his veto power to strike down this horrible law. The law is one of the most blatantly discriminatory attacks on Americans with AIDS since the onset of the epidemic more than a decade ago. And while we commend the President for making clear his belief the language is unconstitutional, the more principled action would have been to not allow this provision to become law in the first place.

Americans of conscience are dismayed the law found itself on the President's desk to begin with. We resent that the Radical Right and its action in support of this bill has threatened to shut down the defense of this country so it can impose its own fear-mongering agenda. To some degree this law represents how far we must yet go in terms of having real and responsible national leadership in fighting AIDS. Most Americans do not agree with the extreme attacks on persons with AIDS and HIV perpetrated by right wing leaders in the U.S. Congress. Signing this bill sends the wrong message of prejudice to this country and feeds the irrational beliefs and actions of extremist Congressional leaders.

We remain determined the policy will be blocked through litigation or other means, and to that degree are encouraged by the President's instructions to his staff to undermine the law. The bill is catastrophically bad policy and will discriminate against the proud and courageous service members with HIV who have defended their country admirably.


The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.