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June 2007 (To print, click the print icon on your browser
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GLMA Expresses Concern over Nomination of James Holsinger to be US Surgeon General

SAN FRANCISCO--June 5, 2007--The Gay and Lesbian Medical Association today expressed concern over President Bush’s nomination of James Holsinger, MD to the position of U.S. Surgeon General. 

“There’s some evidence that Holsinger has allowed his personal religious views to cloud his professional judgment,” said Gay and Lesbian Medical Association Executive Director Joel Ginsberg. GLMA is the nation’s largest and oldest association of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender health care providers.

“As the chief health educator charged with providing Americans the best scientific information available on how to improve their health, it is critically important that the position of U.S. Surgeon General be filled by someone whose actions will be informed by science, not someone who will use the position to promote a personal religious agenda,” said Ginsberg.

GLMA’s concerns about Dr. Holsinger are twofold.

First, Holsinger is named as the sole author of a 1991 treatise entitled “Pathophysiology of Male Homosexuality,” ostensibly prepared for the Committee to Study Homosexuality of the United Methodist Church. The article describes in detail the supposed risks of engaging in various sexual acts and concludes that “when the natural complementarity of the sexes is breached, injuries and diseases may occur.”

According to GLMA President Robert Garofalo, MD, MPH, “while the treatise purportedly cites medical texts to argue that sex between persons of the same gender is medically inadvisable, it does not represent the current medical science and is more a philosophical treatise in the tradition of ‘natural law’ arguments posited by theologians dating back to Thomas Aquinas. As such, it is a piece of rhetoric and not a serious or useful scientific statement.”

“If Holsinger did indeed write this treatise, it would be important for him to clarify whether he wrote it in his capacity as a member of a religious organization to express his own opinions about church policy, or whether he was writing in his capacity as a medical professional, with the intention of recommending medical guidelines based on scientific evidence,” Garofalo concluded.

“We can only hope that Dr. Holsinger would rely on scientific data and not church doctrine in his professional role as America’s top doctor,” said Ginsberg. “The Senate should take a hard look to make sure he isn't another in a long line of ideologically driven Bush administration nominees.”

Second, GLMA is concerned about Dr. Holsinger’s association with a church which supports efforts to change sexual orientation. According to the Kentucky Herald-Leader, Dr. Holsinger and his wife founded the Hope Springs Community Church in Lexington, Kentucky, which “ministers to people who no longer wish to be gay or lesbian,” according to its pastor, Rev. David Calhoun.

“Attempts to ‘cure’ homosexuality have been denounced as unproven and potentially dangerous by a large number of established medical and mental health organizations, including the American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association, and American Psychological Association,” said Garofalo.

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