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JUNE 5 - 11, 2009

Editorial Unexpected allies It’s a little hard to believe, but this week, former Vice President Dick Cheney again said he supported gay marriage. During an appearance at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., he said that “people ought to be free to enter into any kind of union they wish, any kind of arrangement they wish.” While it is well-known that Cheney’s daughter Mary is a lesbian (with a longtime partner and 2-year-old son) and the family now publicly supports her, it is notable that Cheney’s statement puts him to the left of President Obama, who has publicly backed civil unions, not marrige, for same-sex couples. During his appearance, Cheney reiterated his assertion that the issue should be left to the states, saying, “Historically, the way marriage has been regulated is at the state level. It has always been a state issue and I think that is the way it ought to be handled, on a state-by-state basis.” Cheney spent the majority of his speech defending President Bush’s wartime policies. Interestingly, Cheney’s marriage position — a distinct departure from traditional Republican rhetoric — is actually compatible, or even more consistent, with Republican tenets of small government, federalism and personal responsibility. Despite the fact that the 2004 Republican Party platform expressed support for the Federal Marriage Amendment, which would have modified the U.S. Constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman, the party’s ideals of small government and self-determination are at odds with its socialconservative ideals. Socially conservative Republicans oppose same-sex marriage and reproductive choice, yet want smaller government and more personal liberties. However, personal liberties, by default, include the freedom to marry whom you choose and the freedom to have reproductive control over your own body. Certainly, the Republican Party is suffering from internal strife between economic conservatives and libertarians and the newer faction of social conservatives and religious right. That Cheney publicly disagreed with the 2004 Republican platform on the gay-marriage issue could be seen as a foreshadowing of the party’s continued fracturing. Perhaps Cheney’s position on same-sex marriage will, in turn, foreshadow the evolution of the party’s position on the issue. ■

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Jeffrey S. Crowley

New era of HIV/AIDS responsibility On the campaign trail, President Obama promised a renewed commitment to fighting the HIV/ AIDS epidemic. As the director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy, I understand that we cannot solve this problem overnight, but we are taking crucial steps toward that end. My office is tasked with coordinating the continuing efforts of the government to reduce the number of HIV infections and provide care and support services to people living with HIV/AIDS across the United States. The president has made a strong commitment to developing a national HIV/AIDS strategy, which is a top priority for ONAP. Indeed, the president’s budget seeks to increase access to healthcare among uninsured and underinsured HIV-positive individuals and reduce HIV infections. The budget provides a $107-million increase in funding to increase access to care and treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS and reduce HIV infections. This includes an additional $53 million for the Centers for Disease Control — for a total of $745 million in 2010 — to reduce HIV infections and increase knowledge of their status. Specifically, increased CDC funding will allow states and local health departments to expand evidence-

based prevention interventions and test 600,000 additional persons with HIV and identify 6,000 new HIV infections per year, with an emphasis on gay and bisexual men of all races/ ethnicities, African Americans and Latinos. The remaining $54-million increase will go toward the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Ryan White HIV/ AIDS program to expand access to healthcare among uninsured and underinsured individuals living with HIV/AIDS in the United States, and to help reduce HIV/AIDS-related health disparities. These additional resources mean a total of $2.267 billion in funding will be provided for this program, which offers access to primary healthcare and support services for low-income people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States. And on May 17, the Department of Health and Human Services provided $1.79 billion through the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program to ensure that people living with HIV/AIDS continue to have access to life-saving healthcare and medications. The administration is also taking steps to help prevent new HIV infections. In early April, along with HHS and CDC, we launched a new five-year national communication

campaign, “Act Against AIDS.” Every nine-and-a-half minutes, another person in America becomes infected with HIV. The campaign highlights this alarming statistic and aims to combat complacency about the HIV/AIDS crisis in the U.S. Finally, recognizing that the challenge of HIV/AIDS is not limited to our borders, the president’s fiscal year 2010 budget requests $8.6 billion — and $63 billion over six years — to shape a new, comprehensive global-health strategy. This request builds on the success of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief launched by President Bush by more than doubling funding during this six-year period, compared to the previous period. President Obama is also including new funding for maternal child health, neglected diseases, capacity building and other programs that will, combined, kick off a comprehensive global-health strategy. This is only the beginning, but we are going to bring forth the change that America needs on this critical issue. ■ Jeffrey Crowley is the director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy and senior advisor on Disability Policy.

PGN June 5 - 11, 2009 edition  

The Philadelphia Gay News covers news and entertainment serving the GLBT community in the greater Philadelphia region and beyond.

PGN June 5 - 11, 2009 edition  

The Philadelphia Gay News covers news and entertainment serving the GLBT community in the greater Philadelphia region and beyond.