Condom ban was rooted in hatred of gays, according to John Thomas, who died 10 years ago this month

Posted on 13 Jan 2009 at 4:11pm

Thanks to Rafael McDonnell at the Resource Center of Dallas, here’s a link to a New York Times article from 1995 about the Dallas County Commissioners Court’s decision to ban condom distribution by public health workers.

The story notes that at the time, the county’s policy of distributing condoms and needle sterilization kits in high-risk neighborhoods appeared to be working. Dallas had gone from being ranked ninth among major metropolitan areas for new AIDS cases in the mid-1980s to 20th in 1995. But county commissioners like Republican Jim Jackson insisted that the policy was promoting immoral and illegal behavior.

“Sodomy is still against the law in Texas,” Jackson told The Times. “I hear people say the government shouldn’t be in the bedroom. This isn’t just happening in the bedroom. You can see used condoms in the parks.”

The story goes on to note that Republican Commissioner Kenneth Mayfield, who’d recently defeated a Democratic incumbent, had made the health department’s condom program an issue in his campaign. Of course, Mayfield was also the leading opponent of the successful effort to overturn the condom distribution ban that culminated earlier today.

The New York Times story also quoted John Thomas, director of what was then called the AIDS Resource Center. “Unfortunately, Dallas continues to have a reputation for intolerance, bigotry and hatred toward gay people, which translates to the minimalization of AIDS,” Thomas told The Times.

McDonnell, a spokesman for the Resource Center, said he came across the article while researching the life of Thomas, in preparation for the 10-year anniversary of his death later this month. The AIDS Resource Center would later become the Resource Center, which includes the Gay and Lesbian Community Center that bears Thomas’ name.

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