Press

Bush Names Openly Gay AIDS Director

Date: 
April 09, 2001

Administration's efforts to fight domestic HIV/AIDS cases still lacks sufficient funding, NGLTF says

George W. Bush today named openly gay Wisconsin resident Scott H. Evertz as director of the Office of National AIDS Policy. The appointment marks the first time that any Republican White House has named an openly gay or lesbian person to an Executive Branch position.

"We are ready, willing and able to meet with Evertz to discuss how we can work together to increase funding for HIV/AIDS and to pursue policies that will strengthen our fight against the disease," said NGLTF Executive Director Elizabeth Toledo. "In appointing Evertz to this critical position, George W. Bush has recognized Evertz' skill as a leader of gay Republicans and has shown respect for the 20 years of leadership that the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community has demonstrated in fighting HIV and AIDS worldwide."

Toledo noted that although Bush's proposed budget significantly boosts spending for international HIV/AIDS efforts and for research into a vaccine for preventing HIV, his budget proposals both for treatment and for prescription drugs for the significant number of AIDS patients who receive Medicare payments are disappointing.

Under the Bush budget proposal, funding for the Ryan White Care Act would remain the same as for the current year - in effect, a decrease, given cost-of-living increases and inflationary expenses such as the increased price of prescription drugs. And funding for a federal program that addresses people with HIV/AIDS within minority communities would increase just 1 percent - again, actually a decrease when cost of living and inflation are considered. Moreover, the Bush budget fails to recognize the increase in HIV/AIDS caseloads due in part to the fact that people with HIV and AIDS are living longer.

"The appointment of Scott Evertz is an historic, positive step but it is only a first step," Toledo said. "Unless we can secure funding for HIV and AIDS in the federal budget, people will be irreparably harmed. Policy flows from the appropriation of dollars, and unfortunately, it will be conservative politicians such as Trent Lott and Tom DeLay who will help determine the future of HIV and AIDS appropriations."

Evertz' appointment means that the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Bush-O-Meter, which since January has measured the number of openly GLBT White House appointees, is no longer stuck on zero. The Bush-O-Meter can be found at NGLTF's W Watch site. Bush's predecessor in the White House, Bill Clinton, named more than 150 openly gay or lesbian people to his administration.

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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.