Arts & Entertainment
Opponents Of Equality In Royal Oak Sink To HIV-Fear Mongering
By Todd Heywood
Originally printed 10/31/2013 (Issue 2144 - Between The Lines News)
I suppose it should be expected. When a group of people hates another group of people, and sees that the hated group is gaining basic respect as human beings, the lies and distortions are not far behind. The campaign against equality in Royal Oak is no different.
After demonizing transgender people by turning a trip to the bathroom into some imagined voyage of sexual debauchery for transgender persons, the movement opposing equality has now brought up the HIV epidemic to support their bigotry.
Let's be clear, NOTHING in this ordinance would require locations to refuse to host a blood donation drive, nor would the law require blood banks to stop soliciting and receiving blood donations. Not one part of this ordinance would overrule the current blood deferral guidelines, and if a challenge were to be filed under this ordinance, federal policy would win. Courts have consistently upheld the state powers to regulate behavior in the public health interest.
But facts seem not to matter to bigots. What Faith Gillanders presents in a recent Patch.com Royal Oak editorial is scare mongering which ignores the facts about HIV.
First, in June 2010, the FDA has called the current deferral program "suboptimal" and has requested specific studies to determine ways to allow low risk persons who have had MSM behavior to participate in donation programs.
Second, as usually happens when bigots pick information to support their bigotry, Gillanders fails to note that ordinances like the human rights ordinance in Royal Oak are actually essential tools in addressing the ongoing HIV epidemic in the MSM risk group. Why? Because study after study has shown over and over again, that homophobia, anti-gay animus and political campaigns such as Just Royal Oak create hostile environments for men who have sex with men, creating obstacles to prevention services and care.
In addition, governmental policies (or lack thereof) have been attributed by the CDC, UN and WHO to be structural obstacles for MSM to obtain needed services. If a person can be fired from their job, despite outstanding work performance and ethics, simply because they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, or perceived to be why would they risk taking an HIV test and potentially outing themselves and risking their jobs? The Royal Oak ordinance would create an atmosphere where it is safe for a man who has sex with men to access testing, prevention and, if necessary, care programs without fear of losing employment because an employer with the "loving" values of Gillanders won't be able to fire them.
So now that Gillanders has discovered the HIV crisis in the MSM community specifically, and the U.S. in general, will she be stepping up to the plate to donate funds and time for more prevention activities, care assistance and testing initiatives, or was she simply using a cynical fear mongering of HIV for her own bigoted political ends? Most likely her new found concern about HIV is cynical politics designed to terrify a mostly ignorant population with a boogey-man disease - and straw man argument.
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