July 04, 2008
Jesse Helms dies and so should his HIV ban
Posted by: Andoni
I’m in Yosemite National Park, but just learned that former North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms has died at the age of 86. I am not sad.
Helms did more damage to the gay rights movement than any other single person I can think of in the Senate. One particular piece of legislation Helms is responsible for is his infamous HIV travel ban, known as the "Helms Amendment" which outlawed people with HIV from visiting the United States or immigrating to the United States. The U.S. is now one of only 13 nations including Iraq, China, Saudi Arabia and Sudan that ban HIV positive visitors and immigrants. That law, however, is on its last legs because a Senate panel just approved a move to repeal it.
I think a great way for all LGBT people to “honor” Jesse Helms at this moment is to make sure that this law is repealed. We cannot allow a pause due to reflection or “respect.” So call your Congressmen and Senators and tell them that the HIV ban must go and you support the PEPFAR legislation which removes the HIV travel and immigration ban. We need to make sure that Helms’ death accelerates this repeal rather than slows it down.
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