‘Social Conservatives’ Attempt to Derail Evertz Nomination for White House AIDS Czar
In a "significant break" with the Bush administration, "social conservatives ... are mobilizing to try to kill" the nomination of Scott Evertz to the position of director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy, the Washington Post reports. Right-wing leaders "attacked" Evertz, a gay Republican, for his efforts to persuade black ministers to "stop describing homosexuality as a sin." However, Steve Gunderson, a former U.S. representative from Wisconsin, said that Evertz merely wants to eliminate the stigma of homosexuality in the black community, where he feels it hinders those with HIV/AIDS from discussing the disease and seeking testing and treatment. Conservatives, however, feel that Evertz's position on the issue is one example of his "homosexual agenda," and they say that his nomination will lead to lower voter turnout by social conservatives in the 2002 election, thus "endangering" the Republican majority in Congress. Richard Lessner, executive director of American Renewal, a branch of the Family Research Council, said, "This is another case of Republicans trying to ingratiate themselves with natural opponents, and a thumb in the eye of supporters. President Bush may think the Log Cabin Republicans (a gay group) delivered him the election. If that is the case, he is sorely deluded." The Family Research Council will host a session today aimed at brainstorming "strategies to press for Evertz's resignation" (Edsall, Washington Post, 4/12).
Evertz in the News
This week, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and USA Today both featured articles on Evertz's life and views. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel describes Evertz's past positions and experiences, as well as his plans for his new post. Evertz said that his work in the AIDS office will be guided by the memory of the friends he has lost to HIV/AIDS and that he hopes to battle the country's current "complacency" toward the virus. He reiterated that he wishes to focus more on education and prevention efforts and the international impact of the epidemic, especially its effects in sub-Saharan Africa (Skiba, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 4/10). To read the full article, enter http://www.jsonline.com/news/state/apr01/evertz11041001a.asp into your Web browser. USA Today explores how Evertz diverges from some administration positions, especially on issues involving sex education and needle-exchange programs. Evertz said he is "troubled" by Bush's decision to freeze funding for the Ryan White CARE Act, supports needle-exchange programs and favors teaching teens about condom use and safe sex in addition to abstinence. However, Evertz "stops short of insisting that the administration adopt" his views. "I'm going to avoid commenting on what I think the Bush administration should do," he said (Sternberg, USA Today, 4/11). To read the full article, enter http://www.usatoday.com/usatonline/20010411/3223492s.htm into your Web browser.