Gay Rights Groups Oppose Surgeon General Nominee
James Holsinger, a Kentucky cardiologist whom President Bush last month nominated as the next surgeon general, has "come under fire" from gay rights groups for an alleged bias against gays and lesbians, the AP/Boston Globe reports (McMurray, AP/Boston Globe, 6/7).
Holsinger has served as secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services and as chancellor of the University of Kentucky Medical Center. Holsinger also had a 26-year career with the Department of Veterans Affairs, where he served as undersecretary for health in 1992. In addition, Holsinger served for more than 30 years in the Army Reserve, until he retired as a major general in 1993. The term of the previous surgeon general, Richard Carmona, expired last summer (California Healthline, 5/25).
According to some gay rights groups, Holsinger in 1991 wrote that gay sex is unnatural and unhealthy and helped found a Methodist congregation that believes homosexuality is a choice and a curable condition.
The groups protesting the nomination base their bias claims on a 1991 writing by Holsinger that described gay sex as unnatural and unhealthy, as well as his founding of a Methodist congregation that gay rights groups say promotes the idea that homosexuality is a choice and a curable condition.
Christina Gilgor -- director of the Kentucky Fairness Alliance, a gay rights group -- said, "He has a pretty clear bias against gays and lesbians." She added, "This ideology flies in the face of current scientific medical studies. That makes me uneasy that he rejects science and promotes ideology."
White House spokesperson Blair Jones said, "On numerous occasions, Dr. Holsinger has taken up the banner for underrepresented populations, and he will continue to be a strong advocate for these groups and all Americans."
Holly Babin, a spokesperson for HHS, said that past writings from Holsinger were consistent with scientific data available from the 1980s. Babin in a statement said, "It should be noted that in 1991, homosexuals were banned from the military, and, several years before that, homosexuality and Haitian nationality were considered risk factors for HIV/AIDS."
Babin added, "Over the last 20 years, a clearer understanding of these issues has been achieved. Any new compilation of scientific information on health issues facing homosexual populations would have a substantially different focus." Holsinger declined to comment (AP/Boston Globe, 6/7).