SAN FRANCISCO--July 12, 2007--The Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA) today announced its opposition to the nomination of James Holsinger, MD to be Surgeon General, based on his testimony before a Senate Committee. The nomination is also opposed by the American Public Health Association and many medical and gay rights groups.
Holsinger authored a 1991 treatise entitled Pathophysiology of Male Homosexuality and founded a church that has an ex-gay ministry. The American Psychiatric Association in 1973 removed homosexuality from the accepted list of mental disorders, and, along with the American Medical Association and other mainstream health organizations, has denounced as dangerous and ineffective efforts to change sexual orientation, sometimes known as reparative therapy.
During todays hearing, Senator Edward Kennedy challenged the nominee both for ignoring studies that contradicted the conclusion that homosexuality is abnormal and for citing studies that did not support this finding, as well as for padding the bibliography with citations that were not referenced in the text. Holsinger responded to these criticisms by stating that the document was written for a lay audience, was not intended to be a comprehensive treatment of the subject, and referenced only articles which had been supplied to him by a medical librarian.
A Surgeon General can only be effective insofar as people trust him or her to provide objective information based on science. Dr. Holsinger seems to be another in a long line of Bush appointees who are willing to distort or ignore scientific findings in the service of a conservative ideology, said GLMA Executive Director Joel Ginsberg. Former Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona told a Congressional panel Tuesday that top Bush administration officials repeatedly tried to weaken or suppress important public health reports because of political considerations.
This is about trust, said Ginsberg. Dr. Holsinger had an opportunity to retract his statement that homosexuals are abnormal and to express his opposition to reparative therapy. He chose not to do this.
Ginsberg continued: We need a Surgeon General who will fight stigma, not add to it. We need a Surgeon General who is not out of step with the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, which oppose calling gay and lesbian people abnormal. We need a Surgeon General who will oppose abstinence only sex education, which not only has been proven to increase sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies for straight kids, but which also ignores lesbian and gay young people, who are being told that they should only have sex within marriage, though of course same-sex marriage is illegal almost everywhere.