Bush ‘Best President’ on Fight Against HIV/AIDS, Opinion Piece Says
Although HIV/AIDS was "promoted as an important reason" for gays and lesbians to elect former Democratic President Clinton in 1992, it is "unquestionable" that Republican President Bush "has done more to fight AIDS than any president in history," David Benkof of GaysDefendMarriage.com writes in a Philadelphia Daily News opinion piece. The "people pushing Bush to fight the epidemic at home and abroad are overwhelmingly conservative Christians -- the same people we keep hearing gay leaders tar as narrow-minded and bigoted" -- Benkof writes.
According to Benkof, such conservatives "deserve far more credit for relieving suffering from HIV in this decade than gay men and lesbians did in the previous two decades combined." He adds that the "gay community has moved on to issues like marriage, while millions, many men of color who have sex with men, are still suffering from" HIV/AIDS.
Clinton's last budget contained less than $1 billion for both domestic and global HIV/AIDS efforts, Benkof writes, adding that the U.S. under Bush spends $3 billion annually on the issue, with potential increases because of legislation to reauthorize the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief at higher levels. In addition, the Bush administration is attempting to repeal travel restrictions on HIV-positive foreign visitors and immigrants, a policy "the supposedly pro-gay Clinton administration signed into law," Benkof writes. Benkof also says that Bush has "not hesitated to appoint openly gay experts on the disease to top posts. ... By contrast, President Clinton had no openly gay AIDS czars."
According to Benkof, Bush's HIV/AIDS efforts "have done little to convince gays and lesbians that on at least one of their top issues, Republicans have performed better than Democrats." Benkof writes, "For years, I've been asked, 'How can you be a gay Republican?' In 2008, I can answer, 'Because on one of the gay community's top priorities, Republicans outshine Democrats hands down'" (Benkof, Philadelphia Daily News, 7/9).