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SIECUS Opposes Holsinger for Surgeon General

Prejudice and Bias Make Nominee Unfit for Position

Washington, DCThe Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. (SIECUS) today announced its opposition to the nomination of Dr. James W. Holsinger for the post of U.S. Surgeon General.  Dr. Holsinger’s confirmation hearings are taking place tomorrow in front of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

“Dr. Holsinger has a record showing prejudice towards and bias against gays and lesbians,” said William Smith, vice president for public policy at SIECUS.  “HIV/AIDS continues to be a devastating public health epidemic, heavily impacting the gay community. Dr. Holsinger’s efforts to put a scientific veneer on his prejudices puts his ability to advocate for the better health of all those living with and at risk for HIV/AIDS into serious question.”

Dr. Holsinger is a member of the United Methodist Judicial Council, the denomination’s “Supreme Court.”  In his role on the Council, Dr. Holsinger opposed a decision to allow a lesbian to be an associate pastor and supported a pastor who would not permit an openly gay man to join the church. More disturbingly, as a member of the United Methodist Church’s Committee to Study Homosexuality, Dr. Holsinger authored a paper titled “Pathophysiology of Male Homosexuality,” in which he equates homosexuality with disease and argues that homosexuality runs counter to anatomical and physiological truths.  His record also shows his support for reparative therapy to “cure” gays and lesbians, an approach widely discredited by mainstream medical and scientific organizations.

The hearing falls only two days after an appearance by former Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.  In his testimony Dr. Carmona said that officials within the Bush administration time and time again had made decisions on public health issues based on politics, not science, including dismissing global warming as a liberal cause and working to suppress a report on the dangers of second-hand smoke. Dr. Carmona was also suppressed when he tried to promote sex education that included discussions of contraceptives because such programs have been scientifically proven to be effective.  “However there was already a policy in place that did not want to hear the science but wanted to preach abstinence only, but I felt that was scientifically incorrect,” Carmona said.

“Given the testimony of the former Surgeon General, we see even more clearly the urgent need to have a candidate for this position who will not sacrifice the public health for political considerations and who will not kowtow to the Bush  administration’s ideological agenda,” continued Smith.  “We need a Surgeon General who is committed to science, not anti-gay bigotry that clouds and distorts scientific judgment.”

If Dr. Hoslinger is confirmed, the government risks further marginalizing and stigmatizing gay people, which will hinder its ability to effectively battle the U.S. HIV/AIDS epidemic. 

For more information, please contact Patrick Malone at (212) 819-9770 ext. 316 or at