As you may or may not know, there's been this federal law on the books for the past two decades which banned HIV victims from international travel for some reason or another. It was written by homophobes back when human adults actually thought the disease was brought about by an ancient desert god who wanted to smite sinners because of who they chose to have sex with; it was passed due to the politics of fear and hate; and it had absolutely no basis in either science or reason.
Oddly enough, it just got repealed…
President Obama called the 22-year ban on travel and immigration by HIV-positive individuals a decision "rooted in fear rather than fact" and announced the end of the rule-making process lifting the ban.
The president signed the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act of 2009 at the White House Friday and also spoke of the new rules, which have been under development more more than a year. "We are finishing the job," the president said…
The Senate finally voted to overturn the ban as part of approving legislation reauthorizing funding for the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, in 2008, and President Bush signed it into law on July 30 of that year. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and then-Sen. Gordon H. Smith (R-Ore.) led the process in the Senate.
Way to go, America! You got one right. I know that even a stopped clock is non-bigoted twice a day, but I don't want to dismiss this thing. This is a really good thing, and we probably all deserve milkshakes today.
But let's be clear here. The repealing of this nonsensical law was a bipartisan effort. But it's Obama's signature at the bottom of the document, and he'll probably get an undue amount of the credit/blame for this. Credit/blame that he doesn't really deserve. Right alongside the undue credit/blame he's gonna get for the gay-friendly hate crime legislation that just passed.
But, you know what Barack Obama can do for real for supporters of no-brainer civil rights, like, this afternoon? He can suspend Don't Ask, Don't Tell in the military with, essentially, a phone call. He can leverage some of his popularity in Maine and Washington to tip the scales in favor of the gay marriage referendums by issuing a simple statement. He can mention that he stands behind Arlen Specter in support of repealing the Orwellianly-titled Defense of Marriage Act.
Or not. He could also not do any of that.
I wonder which option he'll choose. I can't wait to find out!
Tags: Arlen Specter, Barack Obama, DADT, DOMA, George W. Bush, Gordon Smith, Health, HIV/AIDS, John Kerry, LGBT, Maine, Marriage Equality, Senate, Washington