Box Turtle Bulletin

Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
This article can be found at:
Latest Posts

End of HIV Travel Ban Bottled Up In the Senate

Jim Burroway

June 27th, 2008

What does the US have in comment with Sudan, Russia, Libya and Saudi Arabia? We are among the twelve countries that prohibit HIV-positive non-citizens from traveling to those countries. What’s more, HIV is the only condition that is designated by law as grounds for inadmissibility to the United States. Bird flu, SARS, leprosy and tuberculosis are in the clear, but HIV is banned.

This ban was put in place by President Reagan and Sen. Jesse Helms during the AIDS hysteria of the 1980′s. But now there is widespread support to repeal the ban, support that extends to President George Bush. But the PEPFAR bill (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) has remained bottled up in the Senate by a group of seven Republican Senators, including David Vitter (R-LA), who has admitted to using the services of the so-called “D.C. Madam.”

Comments

POST COMMENT | COMMENT RSS 2.0 | TRACKBACK URL

David Benkof
June 27th, 2008 | LINK

Hooray!

I am thrilled that Box Turtle Bulletin is coming on board with this important issue, which is virtually ignored by every gay organization, including the ones working on HIV.

Good for you, and that’s not sarcastic.

My personal opinion is that the gay community’s fear that people will notice that the president they despise is actually the best president in history on HIV issues (this homophobic Jesse Helms-era ban was signed by President Clinton, by the way) is greater than their desire to actually help HIV-positive people.

My column on why it’s disgusting that gay groups have ignored or de-emphasized lifting the ban while obsessing about pointless issues like whether the same rights are called “marriage” or “domestic partnership” will appear in one of the 5-7 most important newspapers in Southern California within the next few days.

I like very little of what I read at Box Turtle Bulletin. But I have an ethical responsibility to admit it when you’re right. Here, you are right.

Thank you.

Timothy Kincaid
June 27th, 2008 | LINK

Readers,

Please don’t respond to the bait.

David Benkof
June 28th, 2008 | LINK

I just checked and saw that Box Turtle Bulletin mentioned the HIV ban a few days after I complained at Fannie’s Room that gay groups were ignoring this important issue in favor of the current marriage obsession. I don’t know if I shamed BTB into blogging about it, and I guess I don’t care. I just like the fact you’ve come on board. On the other hand, your readers don’t appear to care too much. Some posts at this blog have dozens of comments, whereas this one has one by me, and one by Timothy Kincaid urging people not to respond to me. It’s hardly evidence your readers give a rat’s ass about the HIV ban, which is consistent with what I’m noticing all over the internet. I cannot yet put a link to the significant Southern California newspaper which tells me it is going to post my column on the subject, but I’ll include a handful of paragraphs below so you can read about my thoughts on the HIV ban and the gay community:

“In the seven waning months of the Bush Administration, people who care about the rights and needs of people with HIV have a brief window to take advantage of the fact that George W. Bush is the most friendly American president ever on AIDS issues, and thus get rid of the noxious ban on immigration and visits to America by HIV-positive people. Appallingly, the gay and lesbian leaders who are supposed to represent people like me are so obsessed with trying to force their version of marriage on an unwilling nation that the window may close forever….

“Yet you don’t hear average members of the gay community talking about the need to get rid of what is perhaps Senator Helms’ final curse on us. Instead, they are so single-mindedly focused on celebrating and defending a semantic change for gay Californians who already had all the rights that state grants to married couples, that they refuse to do anything to take advantage of the brief time in which we can get rid of a bad law that does actual, rather than symbolic, harm to gay people.

“Even if most gay and lesbian people don’t agree with me that redefining marriage is wrong, can I at least get some of them to endorse my proposal that the major gay groups should reappropriate even a fraction of their staff time and resources – say, 20 percent – away from marriage and toward the HIV immigration restriction until the ban is lifted? If not, I simply do not see how those gays and lesbians can be believed when they say they’re focused on fairness and equality, rather than trying to force everyone to agree that they’re totally equal, even when they’re not.”

Jim Burroway
June 28th, 2008 | LINK

David, I don’t think you have displayed much of a capacity to shame too many people around here. Frankly, I’ve never heard of Fannie’s Room, and believe it or not, we really don’t hang on your every word.

That’s quite an ego you have there.

David Benkof
June 29th, 2008 | LINK

I believe that you personally don’t hang on my every word. Timothy Kinkaid, though, obviously does, since virtually anything I say gets twisted around and made to look deceptive or false in one of his “reports.”

Scott
June 29th, 2008 | LINK

When hungry trolls cum knockin’, what to do? How about serve up some good, old-fashioned Fried Mush? I got this simple recipe from my Mum, who used to make it for breakfast on holidays, or when an older relative was visiting.

Fried Mush (Cornmeal)
2 quarts water
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups yellow cornmeal

Add salt to water & bring to boil. Gradually add all corn meal. Cook over LOW heat until thickened. Pour into a greased loaf baking dish. Let cool, then refrigerate. Slice in 1/2″ thick pieces and fry (or bake) on a hot griddle. Serve with butter and pancake syrup.

Jason D
June 29th, 2008 | LINK

I think this issue hasn’t been a priority because it’s not about Americans, and like it or not, we try to look at our own first.

We’ve been fairly xenophobic in the past 30 years or so, so it’s not too surprising that we would ban a group from entering the country. What is surprising is that HIV is the only medical condition that qualifies for a ban.

As ugly as it may sound, I think some people simply don’t want more HIV+ people in this country. I’m sure some are still uneducated enough to think it’s transmitted like the common cold. I’ve read that some ridiculous number of people actually believe if two HIV- men have sex, the act in and of itself will create the virus out of thin air! But those that know better, might just be against the idea of having more people with an incurable condition entering the country.

But if we don’t ban patients with SARS, TB, and leprosy, it makes little sense to ban those with HIV.

Jim Burroway
June 29th, 2008 | LINK

Made to look “deceptive”? I think the evidence speaks for itself. If you’re feeling picked on, then maybe you should be more careful about the deception you’ve been spreading.

That is the mission of this web site by the way. Those who write anti-gay tracts using deceptive tactics get noticed. Those who don’t, don’t. Consider yourself as having arrived.

Now, in the interest of returning this thread back to the actual topic at hand, this is the LAST we will say on this.

Jim Burroway
June 29th, 2008 | LINK

Jason D.

Andrew Sullivan recently wrote about the problem with getting attention paid to the HIV ban: there is no natural constituency in this country. After all, it doesn’t affect me, nor does it affect anyone I know. But issues like marriage, adoption, discrimination, hate crimes — we can all identify with these and understand how important they are.

This doesn’t mean that we don’t think the ban should be lifted. But when it comes to priorities in tackling issues which do affect us deeply, unfortunately the travel ban ends up falling low on the list.

I don’t think it’s really a matter of xenophobia. The ban was the result of homophobia. But since so few of us are effected by it, I suspect that most LGBT people aren’t even aware that it exists.

werdna
June 29th, 2008 | LINK

To clarify one thing, HIV is not the only disease which can make one inadmissible for entry into the US. Having any “communicable disease of public health significance” may be grounds for being barred from entry. The current list is available here and it includes Tuberculosis (as well as Hansen’s Disease (Leprosy) and a number of STDs that probably shouldn’t be on the list).

The thing that distinguishes HIV from the other diseases on the list is that it is the only one that’s there by statute. The others are there by Department of Health and Human Services regulation. HIV is there despite the fact that public health officials think it shouldn’t be. It’s there because Congress passed a law in 1993 which wrote it into the Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA). It can only be removed by an act of Congress, and should be shortly despite the attempts to delay it by this small number of Senators.

Don’t fret that SARS and bird flu aren’t on the list, they’re covered under separate Isolation and Quarantine rules which apply to residents as well as visitors to the US.

For the record: President Clinton was opposed to the ban on HIV+ travelers and immigrants. As Clinton was setting things in motion at the PHS, Senator Don Nickles attached an amendment to the 1993 NIH Reauthorization Act which added the new language to the INA. Both houses of Congress passed the amendment by veto-proof majorities. Clinton had little choice but to sign the legislation.

Perhaps Clinton could’ve done more to oppose it but it would’ve been difficult, if not simply impossible, to overcome the (misguided but determined) will of Congress on this issue and it was made more complicated by the amendment being attached to an important bill that AIDS advocates were otherwise very happy about. Compared to many of the other failures and disappointments of his presidency this actually rates fairly low in my book. The HIV ban is a national shame, but one for which the 103rd Congress bears responsibility, not Clinton. Hopefully the 110th Congress will redeem itself.

Timothy Kincaid
June 29th, 2008 | LINK

Much thanks to the gay organizations that have put in so much work and effort, mostly behind the scenes, in getting this bill before Congress. And much respect to Sen. Kerry (D – MA) and Smith (R – OR) for sponsoring this legislation.

While it may be easy to criticize and be self-important about this issue, it is you tireless and valiant warriors fighting for our rights that have got this bill where it is and who will continue this fight on the behalf of HIV positive individuals that wish to visit our nation.

While I recognize that our community’s highest priorities right now are working within a narrow window to ensure that such equalities as we have do not become eroded, I am grateful that you have not dropped lower-profile, but still important, issues.

Timothy Kincaid
June 29th, 2008 | LINK

Werdna,

As you stated, this was not a ban put in place by the Clinton Administration, but one that was put in place to override the intentions of that administration. Those who make the “Clinton signed it” argument are either very politically ignorant or are deliberately dishonest.

David Benkof
June 29th, 2008 | LINK

Jim Burroway-

I love how you said “The ban was the result of homophobia. But since so few of us are effected (sic) by it, I suspect that most LGBT people aren’t even aware that it exists.”

I think you are 100 percent right. Which is another, significant, sad piece of evidence supporting my thesis that the American gay and lesbian community is the most selfish American subculture since the Hippies.

Emily K
June 29th, 2008 | LINK

Andrew Sullivan is trying to draw attention to HIV? HE was the one who damaged the spread of information when he declared the epidemic to be “over!” The basis of his personal conclusion was that since rich white men (like himself) can afford anti-HIV drug cocktails, the crisis is over. Completely overlooking, of course, poor people of color, who contract the disease the most, and our fellow human beings in Africa where the crisis hasn’t even peaked.

werdna
June 29th, 2008 | LINK

Sullivan has taken a lot of wrongheaded positions on a lot of issues, but he’s been completely right on about the HIV travel/immigration ban. The only thing one might say about his advocacy on this issue is that his motivation is selfish: the immigration ban is what’s preventing him from becoming a permanent resident of the US. Still, it’s the right thing to do, so let’s get it done.

David Benkof
June 29th, 2008 | LINK

EmilyK-

I absolutely agree with you. Andrew Sullivan, like most selfish, racist gay leaders, only cares about HIV when it affects white, gay leaders like him. When HIV affects poor gay and bisexual men of color – and transgender women – the gay community moves on to non-issues like whether the same benefits in California are called “marriage” or “domestic partnerships” and they blame the GBT victims of HIV for contracting the disease even though knowledge of how to avoid it is widespread. It makes me sick.

My personal opinion as to why you and I are among the small percentage of white LGBT people to be upset by this is we come from an ethical tradition that calls on us to help the people most in need, without judgment.

Emily K
June 29th, 2008 | LINK

Actually, to make my status clear, I’m an impoverished lesbian Jewish “white” woman. So I can’t accurately state that I’m a member of the same percentage (or tax bracket) as Andrew Sullivan. Were it not for my skin color, I’d be exactly like the people who live in my urban neighborhood: in a low-rent apartment aided by food stamps. I guess you could say that I too have selfish reasons to care: I would not be able to afford the drugs if I were to become HIV+. And since I can’t afford health care, I hope health care becomes universal. And since I’m an artist, I want there to be more funding for the arts. Really I’m just as selfish as the next self. But I also believe that the self comes first. Not that community doesn’t matter. But if you don’t care about yourself, nobody else will.

David Benkof
June 29th, 2008 | LINK

EmilyK-

Well said. I’m sure you know the rest of the saying “If I am not for myself…”

While I’ve got you, something’s been bothering me. You and Wayne Besen seem to like to talk about me in forums where I’m not allowed to respond. And hey, it’s a free Web, so go ahead. I imagine if you guys were more confident in your criticisms, you’d let me respond. So I ignore much of what you say. But one blatant falsehood is almost as bad as the ones Timothy Kincaid has been making, and I just have to respond.

You quote me calling myself a “pro-gay marriage defender.” Yet I never said that and I never would. It doesn’t accurately reflect my opinion of myself. However, my googling doesn’t turn up anybody else calling me that either. Why do you put it in quotes? If that’s your own term for me, the quotes serve no use. Why are you misleading people into thinking I said something about myself that I never said?

Emily K
June 29th, 2008 | LINK

I interpolated it from your claiming membership of the LGBTQ community. If indeed, you are “anti-gay,” I will use that. But I assumed since you were labeling yourself a “gay” – as in, “gays defend marriage” – you would be “pro-gay,” because you would also be “pro-yourself.” But XGW is stringent about avoiding slander. So, if you wish to correct this label, by all means.

Jim Burroway
June 29th, 2008 | LINK

Hey guys, This thread isn’t about Benkof, as much as Benkof appears to want to turn all conversations toward himself.

Per the comments policy, let’s keep the comments on this thread focused on the subject at hand. If you don’t want to do that, go somewhere else.

This is the last I’ll have to say about this.

David Benkof
June 29th, 2008 | LINK

Jim-

I would have left my message at Ex Gay Watch, where the lie about me occurred. But they ban me from commenting, and this is the only place I’m conversing with Emily. But I will have no more to say other than what everyone knows: don’t put quotation marks around things the person didn’t literally say.

Jim Burroway
June 30th, 2008 | LINK

I can’t let this comment go by without responding:

I think you are 100 percent right. Which is another, significant, sad piece of evidence supporting my thesis that the American gay and lesbian community is the most selfish American subculture since the Hippies.

I cannot disagree more, and I am frankly, deeply disturbed you completely ignore our collective charitable work — which is very significant and fills the gap that religious charities SHOULD have filled

We’ve been forced to establish out of our own resources an entire patchwork network of AIDS service organizations and charities in communities around the country. Go to any city with a notable LGBT charity, and you will see them there, giving of time, money and talent, doing what Christian charities can do, can afford to do, and ought to do, but don’t. And these LGBT charities make their services open to all, regardless of sexual orientation.

Canned food drives, money drives, fundraising, AIDS walks, all of that goes towards helping people who are genuinely in need.

Now you may accuse me of sitting comforatbly behind my keyboard and doing nothing in the trenches, and I could understand that.

But the next time the Rainbow coalition builds anothe Habitat house here in Tucson, I’ll be sure to send you pictures.

Outside of the so-called “religious” community, I believe the LGBT community has been the MOST generous of all. Not necessarily because we want to be, but because we’ve had to be. The people who otherwise prided themselves on their own caritas have shown themselves to be charlatans. We didn’t get help; we got condemnation. But we do notice that they are very eager to spend millions to deny marriage to gays and lesbians in California, Arizona, Florida and elsewhere.

Timothy Kincaid
June 30th, 2008 | LINK

As much as it annoys me that he’s hijacked another thread,

But one blatant falsehood is almost as bad as the ones Timothy Kincaid has been making, and I just have to respond.

All of my comments about David Benkof have been documented by links to the sources or by email information I’ve personally received from the individuals and organizations I quote.

Very very little that Benkof claims stands up to even a casual glance at the source docs and I’ve yet to contact ANYONE who believes that Benkof characterized their views correctly.

David Benkof
June 30th, 2008 | LINK

Timothy-

I have responded to each of your accusations, and only two of them have had merit – one of which I have apologized for, and one of which I have corrected. The rest of your exposes are filled with unnamed sources, vague claims that “many” other people disagree with me, and accusations that I said things that I never said. A favorite tactic of yours (you’ve done it at least four times) is to blame me for saying something on Monday that is no longer true on Wednesday – as if I could have predicted the future – and to claim that you’ve found proof of hypocrisy or deceit on my part. Whatever. I am completely comfortable with people reading your “exposes” because there is no there there.

Timothy Kincaid
June 30th, 2008 | LINK

I have quoted no unnamed sources.

All of the claims about what Benkof has said are linked to the places in which he said them.

David Benkof
June 30th, 2008 | LINK

Timothy-

There you go, lying again. When in “Behind the Mask” you wrote “The Dallas Voice responded” that is an unnamed source. A newspaper is not a named source. Was that the editor? The publisher? The dude who answers the phones? The cartoonist? How are we to know?

Same thing with “according to Q-Notes.” Also, “So I asked the editor” of the Ozarks Star. Those are unnamed sources.

I have been a professional journalist off and on, mostly on, since 1989. There isn’t a professional publication in the country that would allow you to write “According to Q-Notes” unless those precise words were printed in the newspaper.

Of course, you’re not trying to be a professional journalist. You’re just trying to make me look bad – and inexplicably to get me to spend more of my time writing for the mainstream press (where I’ve been quite successful so far) instead of the gay press, as if that will help shore up gay marriage. Um, OK.

Timothy Kincaid
June 30th, 2008 | LINK

By “The Dallas Voice responded”, I meant that the Editor of the Dallas Star responded: Tammye Nash.

By “the editor” of the Ozarks Star I meant the Publisher/Editor of the Ozarks Star: Chaz Ward

David Benkof
June 30th, 2008 | LINK

Timothy, that’s very helpful. But any first-year journalism student knows that it is necessary to say who your sources are (or why they are unnamed) in the actual piece, not nowhere, and not on a completely different Web site somewhere else in cyberspace. Further, Tammye told me something very different than what she told you. I’m can’t tell you that she didn’t say that to you, only that she told me something very different.

It all smacks of completely amateur research and reporting, far more amateur even than you’re accusing me of.

David Benkof
June 30th, 2008 | LINK

Hey everyone-

My days of commenting at BoxTurtleBulletin are over. I’ve been censored one too many times. If you want to converse with me, come on by GaysDefendMarriage.com.

Jim Burroway
June 30th, 2008 | LINK

For the record.

The reason Benkof has been edited was stated in the body of his edited comment. He has made an allegation of wrongdoing against another third party. It is an allegation that he has not substantiated.

We do not post allegations that we cannot substantiate in some form. David Benkof is free to post all the allegations he wants to on his own web site and accept the liability for it there. OR he can offer substantiation for his allegation in accordance to our comments policy.

We have two choices in dealing with cases like this. We can insist that everyone substantiate their positions per our comments policy, or we can spend our own time chasing down every single “Fact” to see if it pans out. While we reserve the right to do the latter, the onus is on the commenter to substantiate his or her allegations from the start. We simply cannot chase down everything everyone says.

I do find it ironic that the very comment that we “censored” him one too many times on also contains an acknowledgment that he has done the same thing on his blog to enforce his rules. I took a quick look at his blog and could not find where his rules are posted. We however have ours posted, and the links to those rules are displayed prominently above and below the comments form.

Please be aware, that we are an equal-opportunity enforcer on this rule. People who don’t like it can get their own blogs.

the gideonse bible » Blog Archive » “A lot of crackers have their burning crosses at half-mast today in his honor.”
July 4th, 2008 | LINK

[...] with the likes of Sudan, Russia, Libya and Saudi Arabia. The ban’s repeal is awaiting a vote in the Senate, which may come as early as next [...]

Leave A Comment

All comments reflect the opinions of commenters only. They are not necessarily those of anyone associated with Box Turtle Bulletin. Comments are subject to our Comments Policy.

(Required)
(Required, never shared)

PLEASE NOTE: All comments are subject to our Comments Policy.