Surgeon General Nominee Holsinger’s Views on MSM Unclear, Editorial Says
Although President Bush's nominee for surgeon general, James Holsinger, is "nearly perfect" on "paper," a 1991 document he wrote on the health of men who have sex with men has "gummed up his effort to become the nation's top" physician, a Washington Post editorial says (Washington Post, 7/19). Bush nominated Holsinger on May 24 to succeed former Surgeon General Richard Carmona, who ended his term last year with no replacement.
The HIV Medicine Association and other groups -- including the American Public Health Association and some gay and lesbian organizations -- announced their opposition to Holsinger ahead of his Senate confirmation hearing, which was held last week. HIVMA, APHA, the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and other groups in their opposition to Holsinger cite in part a document he wrote in 1991 called the "Pathophysiology of Male Homosexuality." The document was written to a United Methodist Church panel studying homosexuality. In the document, which focuses on anatomy and the reproductive system, Holsinger wrote that the "varied sexual practices of homosexual men have resulted in a diverse and expanded concept of sexually transmitted disease and associated trauma." Holsinger also called anal sex unnatural and gave an anatomical explanation. Holsinger during the the (Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing said that his views have changed and that the issues he raised in the paper are not relevant to current public health discussions (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/13).
The "hope" was that Holsinger's confirmation hearing last week would "bring some clarity" to his views on MSM, the editorial says, adding that there was no "such luck." Although Holsinger's comments during the hearing are "excellent," they do not "answer the question" about his views, according to the Post. The editorial concludes that the "question remains: Does Dr. Holsinger still believe that homosexuality is unnatural and unhealthy? If the answer is yes, he should not be confirmed" (Washington Post, 7/19).