State of Union speech acknowledges AIDS crisis
President Bush delivered his fifth State of the Union speech and again angered gay activists.
Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement the president apparently felt obligated to reach out to his conservative supporters.
“The president outlined many challenges facing this country that are of concern to the American people but unfortunately felt the need to throw his base an unnecessary and divisive crumb,” Solmonese said. “Trying to draw comparisons between the reprehensible acts of unethical politicians with fair and independent judges is both ridiculous and wrong.”
National Stonewall Democrats also criticized Bush, claiming he inferred that same-sex relationships are immoral institutions from which children must be shielded. They also noted Bush compared marriages between same-sex couples to the lobbying scandals that have plagued the Republican Party in recent weeks.
In his speech Bush said, “Many Americans, especially parents, still have deep concerns about the direction of our culture, and the health of our most basic institutions. They are concerned about unethical conduct by public officials, and discouraged by activist courts that try to redefine marriage.”
Eric Stern, executive director of National Stonewall Democrats said Bush should focus on winning the war on terror, reigning in the nuclear capability of Iran and North Korea and addressing other problems at home.
“It is dishonest for President bush to ethically couple marriage recognition of American families with the permissive, slop-trough gorging on special interest money that has shamed the Bush Administration and his Republican Party,” Stern said. “President Bush attempted to mislead Congress last night with his false assessment of the priorities facing our country.”
Bush acknowledged the domestic AIDS crisis in his speech and promised to help those afflicted.
“More than a million Americans live with HIV, and half of all AIDS cases occur among African-Americans,” Bush said.
“I ask Congress to reform and reauthorize the Ryan White Act and provide new funding to states, so we end the waiting lists for AIDS medicine in America.”
Solmonese said it was encouraging to hear the president speak about the AIDS epidemic, but he raised concerns about the Bush Administration’s approach.
“It is a positive sign the president acknowledged the crisis, however, we continue to be troubled by this administration’s polices that continually leave our nation’s health programs underfunded and allow ideology, and not science, to determine HIV/AIDS policy.”
Solmonese also criticized the president’s comments about cutting taxes for Americans and providing health care insurance alternatives to working families.
“If the president is truly interested in cutting taxes and providing health care coverage for working families then he would support an end to the tax inequity on health care benefits for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans,” Solmonese said. “Our community is being taxed at a much higher rate than our neighbors and the president and Congress would act on this disparity.”
In his 52-minute address the president said he understood how concerned Americans are about the economy and the war. But he vowed to push forward with the war, saying to pull out of Iraq would be a grave mistake.
He promised to move the United States forward in the technological competition in the world, where China and India are making steady progress.
He proposed $380 million in new federal support to improve math, science and technology education in the nation’s elementary and high schools.
During the speech Bush received loud applause from Republicans and was often met with silence from Democrats.
Bush’s overall job approval rate has risen in recent weeks to just above 40 percent, according to recent public opinion polls.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition of February 3, 2006