Bush to Appoint Gay Republican as Head of White House Office of National AIDS Policy
President Bush plans to appoint Scott Evertz today as director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy and has announced his intention to "broaden" the scope of the department to focus on the epidemic's global spread, the Washington Post reports. Evertz, a fundraising executive with a Milwaukee faith-based senior citizens' group, is the first openly gay official in the Bush administration and the first gay ONAP director. He is the president of the Wisconsin chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans, the nation's largest gay and lesbian Republican organization. Evertz said he would like to "refocus" federal HIV prevention efforts to stem the rate of transmission among African-American men, particularly those in poor communities (Allen, Washington Post, 4/9). He also said that efforts overseas must not be reduced to a "passive policy of simply handing over" anti-AIDS drugs to HIV-positive individuals. "We need to offer the best and brightest from this country as we pass off what we've learned when it comes to assisting folks in adhering to these regimens," he said. Gay-rights organizations were pleased with Bush's choice of Evertz. Richard Tafel, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, said, "This appointment is a very good sign on all levels. AIDS is a very powerful issue in the gay community, and to have an openly gay official chosen on his merit means we shouldn't have to be afraid and closeted for who we are" (Becker, New York Times, 4/9). Evertz will begin work later this month (Washington Post, 4/9).
Bush also plans to expand ONAP to "coordinate all domestic and international HIV/AIDS policy," according to a senior White House official (New York Times, 4/9). As part of this restructuring, ONAP will include one member from the Department of State and another from the Department of Health and Human Services. The state department official would be tasked with addressing international AIDS-related topics, particularly African issues (Lindlaw, AP/Nando Times, 4/8). In addition, Evertz will sit on Bush's domestic policy board to coordinate AIDS policy and will also join an AIDS task force headed by Secretary of State Colin Powell and HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson. Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, and his domestic policy adviser, Margaret La Montagne, also will sit on the task force (New York Times, 4/9).