Letters

Posted on 13 Jul 2006 at 2:49pm

ADA, Rehab Act worth little

While examining this important case (“Appeals court reinstates Foreign Service HIV suit,” June 30, 2006), Ms. Rostow made the following inaccurate statement: “Carrying HIV is considered a disability under both the Rehabilitation Act and the ADA.”

This is what our wonderful government said to me:

Section 504 defines a “handicapped person” as: ” any person who (I) has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities, (II) has a record of such an impairment, or (III) is regarded as having such an impairment.”

Title II defines a “disability” as: ” with respect to an individual, a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of such an individual; a record of such an impairment; or being regarded as having such an impairment.

This is how the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights applied the law in my case in 2004: “You stated that you were taking medications for your impairment during your time of employment. The information you provided did not indicate that you had an impairment that substantially limited one or more major life activities. Based on the information you provided to OCR concerning your impairment status, you do not meet the regulatory definition of a handicapped person under Section 504 or the definition for an individual with a disability under Title II.”

I don’t mean to compare my complaint to the very important case of Lorenzo Taylor. However, as AIDS patients become healthier and more treatment options become available, it becomes harder to argue that one is “substantially limited.” So the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act are failing to protect the civil rights of Americans living and working with HIV.

Edward H. Smith
Dallas

AIDS coverage lifts spirits

A friend forwarded me a copy of your coverage outlining the losses sustained by the people of Dallas due to the AIDS epidemic. One of the people outlined was my darling brother, Brooks Tuttle. As the 10th anniversary of his death approaches, my sister, brother and his nieces and nephew sit in awe that he has been away from us for so long. We all feel, even after all this time, the loss of the “bigger than life” character we were lucky enough to have as our kin. How wonderful to read your article and see that he is still so fondly remembered and that he continues to inspire people like his wonderful and astonishingly talented friend David Nelson.

To see that Brooks still lives on in the hearts of others lifts our spirits and allows us to celebrate his life and the wonderful friendships he made while he was among us.

Tina Frost
Fort Worth

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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, July 14, 2006.

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