After two letters by the Human Rights Campaign and The AIDS Institute, the Huckabee campaign has not responded
WASHINGTON - One week after requesting to meet with Republican presidential candidate Governor Mike Huckabee, Jeanne White-Ginder, the mother of Ryan White, the Human Rights Campaign or The AIDS Institute, still have not heard from Gov. Huckabee or his campaign. The meeting was called in response to Gov. Huckabee�s 1992 remarks, that he refused to repudiate, when he said people living with HIV and AIDS should have been �isolated� even after it was determined the virus was not spread through casual contact. The morning after HRC and The AIDS Institute sent a letter to the Huckabee campaign requesting a meeting, the Governor said, �I would be very willing to meet with them.� To read the Associated Press story visit our blog, HRC Back Story: http://www.hrcbackstory.org/2007/12/breaking-huckab.html
On Saturday, a field representative working for the Human Rights Campaign approached Huckabee during a campaign stop at the Berlin New Hampshire Technical College, located in Berlin, NH. The staffer asked, �I know that you said you are willing to meet with Ryan White's mother, when will you be meeting with her?� Huckabee answered, �Well I don't know how to get in touch with her.� The staffer offered to provide contact information and Huckabee called over Christopher Herr, the campaign�s New Hampshire field manager. She provided the information to Mr. Herr while Huckabee moved on.
�Seven days after we asked Governor Huckabee to meet with Jeanne White-Ginder, she is still waiting to hear from him or anyone on his campaign,� said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. �As we�ve said, this is not an issue of �political correctness.� Rather, this is an issue of valuing science-based evidence over unfounded fear or prejudice. If Gov. Huckabee is a man of his word, then he�ll stop stalling and stand by his pledge and immediately reach out to Jeanne.�
�We are very disappointed that Governor Huckabee has not taken steps to meet with Jeanne White-Ginder after indicating he was willing to do so,� said Gene Copello, Executive Director of The AIDS Institute. �HRC and The AIDS Institute sent two letters to Governor Huckabee with the necessary information about how we could facilitate a meeting with Ms. White-Ginder, who is a board member of The AIDS Institute. It is important to Ms. White-Ginder, whose young son, Ryan White, suffered undue discrimination because of prejudice and fear, for this meeting to occur. Since the 1980s we have had good scientific evidence about how AIDS is transmitted and how it is not. Even in the face of such evidence, discrimination against women, men, and children living with HIV/AIDS continues today. Calls for isolation and quarantine not only fly in the face of scientific evidence, they also reinforce prejudice and fear. This is our third request to meet with Governor Huckabee and we will continue to advocate strongly for this meeting until it happens.�
�Over 1.2 million people in our country are living with HIV/AIDS. It�s hard to imagine that a serious Presidential candidate would stand by a statement to �isolate� our fellow Americans, and then ignore offers from Ryan White�s mother, Jeanne White-Ginder, to meet so she can educate Governor Huckabee about the devastating impact of this disease,� said Rebecca Haag, Executive Director of AIDS Action in Washington, D.C. �This nation needs a results-oriented national strategy to end this tragedy. Blaming the victim is not constructive strong political leadership is needed. The Governor does not appear to be up to the task.�
As a candidate for a U.S. Senate seat in 1992, Huckabee answered 229 questions submitted to him by The Associated Press. The Senate candidate wrote: �It is difficult to understand the public policy towards AIDS. It is the first time in the history of civilization in which the carriers of a genuine plague have not been isolated from the general population, and in which this deadly disease for which there is no cure is being treated as a civil rights issue instead of the true health crisis it represents.�
�When Huckabee wrote his answers in 1992, it was common knowledge that AIDS could not be spread by casual contact,� the Associated Press reported, December 8, 2007. In a FOX News interview on Sunday, December 9, Huckabee stood by his remarks. Watch the interview: http://www.hrcbackstory.org/2007/12/hrc-and-the-aid.html.
December 10th, 2007
Dear Governor Huckabee:
In 1984, a young boy living in Indiana was diagnosed with AIDS. At the time, that boy, thirteen-year-old Ryan White, had no idea that his life would become a testament of courage and bravery responsible for opening the hearts and minds of millions of people throughout our country and around the world. Six years later, in 1990, Ryan�s life ended -- a dear, precious life cut short.
But Ryan�s death wasn�t the only tragedy in this well-known story in our country�s history. Ryan and his family�s battle with HIV/AIDS was also a stark reminder of what happens in our country when fear and ignorance go unchecked. Governor Huckabee, the Ryan White family was ridiculed, shunned and ostracized by people who thought the answer was to �isolate� them far away from the rest of society. In 1984, this belief was purely based on ignorance. But these same beliefs, which you espoused in 1992 and have refused to recant today, as a candidate for President of the United States, are completely beyond comprehension.
When you answered the Associated Press questionnaire in 1992, we, in fact, knew a great deal about how HIV was transmitted. Four years earlier, in 1988, the Reagan Administration�s Department of Health and Human Services issued a brochure assuring the American public that �you won�t get the AIDS virus through every day contact with the people around you in school, in the workplace, at parties, child care centers, or stores.� To call for such an oppressive and severe policy like �isolation,� when the scientific community and federal government were certain about how HIV is transmitted was then, and remains today, irresponsible. Such statements should be completely repudiated, not simply dismissed as needing to be slightly reworded.
This was not and is not an issue of �political correctness,� as you state. Rather, this is an issue of valuing science-based evidence over unfounded fear or prejudice.
Have we not learned the difficult lesson of how devastating these statements based in ignorance and fear can be to American families? Has it been so long ago that we have forgotten how our neighbors had the backs of entire communities turned on them? Governor Huckabee, those dark moments in American history are the direct result of ignorant views that stifle discussion, hinder resources and delay action. We have a moral obligation as a nation to never allow ourselves to repeat the shameful mistakes of the past. And we cannot sit idly by when a candidate for President of the United States tries to lead us back down that path of ignorance and fear.
Governor Huckabee, if you need a reminder of how calls for �isolation� can shatter a Mother�s heart, you only need to turn to Jeanne White-Ginder. Today, we respectfully ask you to sit down with her and allow her to share with you Ryan�s story. Ms. White-Ginder continues to be active in AIDS advocacy as a member of the board of The AIDS Institute. We hope that, even in 2007, Ryan�s story can continue to open hearts and minds.
We would be happy to facilitate a meeting between Ms. White-Ginder and yourself, or a member of your staff. Please feel free to contact Brad Luna, Communications Director for the Human Rights Campaign, at (202) 216-1514 at your convenience.
Human Rights Campaign
A. Gene Copello
The AIDS Institute
December 12th, 2007
Dear Governor Huckabee:
We wanted to follow-up from our initial letter sent to you Monday evening addressing your comments made in 1992 on the isolation of AIDS patients from the general public - comments that you have refused to recant.
According to media reports published Tuesday, you said: �I would be very willing to meet with them. � I would tell them we've come a long way in research, in treatment.�
We are writing to open a dialogue with your campaign to facilitate a meeting between yourself, Jeanne White-Ginder, the mother of Ryan White Joe Solmonese, President of the Human Rights Campaign and A. Gene Copello, Executive Director of The AIDS Institute.
As explained in our first letter, Ms. White-Ginder continues to be active in AIDS advocacy as a member of the board of The AIDS Institute. Her son, Ryan, was diagnosed with AIDS on December 17, 1984 at the age of 13, and captivated the attention of millions as he fought to attend school after being expelled due to ignorance of how HIV is transmitted. As you may know, the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act, was named is his honor. The act is the United States' largest federally funded program for people living with HIV/AIDS. Congress voted to reauthorize the Act in 1996, 2000 and again in 2006. We hope that, even in 2007, Ryan�s story can continue to open hearts and minds.
We look forward to discussing our experiences and personal insight with you and your campaign. This was not and is not an issue of �political correctness,� as you have stated previously. Rather, this is an issue of valuing science-based evidence over unfounded fear or prejudice.
To facilitate the logistics of a meeting between Ms. White-Ginder, Mr. Solmonese and Mr. Copello, please contact Brad Luna, Communications Director for the Human Rights Campaign, at (202) 216-1514.
Human Rights Campaign
A. Gene Copello
The AIDS Institute
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