Task Force opposes nomination of Dr. James Holsinger for U.S. surgeon general

June 05, 2007

Roberta Sklar, Director of Communications

WASHINGTON, June 5  — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force today announced its opposition to the nomination of Dr. James W. Holsinger for U.S. surgeon general. Dr. Holsinger is a University of Kentucky professor and a member of the United Methodist Judicial Council, the denomination’s “supreme court.”

In his role on the United Methodist Judicial Council, Holsinger opposed a decision to allow a lesbian to be an associate pastor, and he supported a pastor who would not permit an openly gay man to join the church. As member of the Committee to Study Homosexuality in the United Methodist Church, Holsinger authored a 1991 paper titled “Pathophysiology of Male Homosexuality,” which essentially equates homosexuality with disease in lurid terms.

According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the surgeon general is “America’s chief health educator, giving Americans the best scientific information available on how to improve their health and reduce the risk of illness and injury.”

Statement by Matt Foreman, Executive Director
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

“With the nomination of Dr. Holsinger for surgeon general, the Bush administration is once again elevating ideology over public policy and once again throwing red meat to its ravenous anti-gay supporters. Dr. Holsinger’s record shows that his own biases will not allow him to look objectively at scientific information. Consequently, he is not qualified to be surgeon general and we call upon the Senate to promptly reject his nomination.”

Statement by the Rev. Troy Plummer,
Executive Director of Reconciling Ministries Network of United Methodists
and National Religious Leadership Roundtable Member

“For the last 20 years, James Holsinger has been the worst kind of bully inside the United Methodist Church. As a member of a sexuality study team in 1991, he used his position as a medical doctor to promote skewed and inaccurate information regarding gay men. As the chair of the Judicial Council, the ‘supreme court’ of the United Methodist Church, he has used his power to disregard the Constitution of the Methodist Church and block from membership faithful gay and lesbian Christians. As a pastor, he has promoted ‘reparative therapy’ — a practice that is nothing short of torture of gay and lesbian people and is not condoned by any professional psychological association; in fact, many call it medical malpractice.

“In short, when he has been called to be a leader in the United Methodist Church, to offer the hand of Christian fellowship, he has slammed the door in the face of faithful gay and lesbian persons. What, then, might he do as surgeon general? As the primary medical educator of our nation, I have no faith that Holsinger would refrain from these practices which are unscientific at best and torturous at worst. When Holsinger’s ‘all’ does not mean ‘all’ in the Methodist Church, can it mean all for American citizens? What kind of education from the surgeon general could gay and lesbian families expect? What could bisexual and transgender people expect?

“As a psychotherapist, a pastor and an American citizen myself, I can only hope that James Holsinger will not be given the opportunity to use the office of the surgeon general as a bully pulpit for hatred.”


The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the grassroots power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. We do this by training activists, equipping state and local organizations with the skills needed to organize broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and 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.