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In addition, the five Republicans who did respond to requests for comment — including ranking member Sen. Michael B. Enzi of Wyoming — were noncommittal and gave no indications of support for Dr. Holsinger.

The anti-homosexual charge centers on a paper Dr. Holsinger wrote in 1991, when he was chief medical director of the Veterans Health Administration, that said homosexual sex posed higher risks of disease and bodily damage than heterosexual sex.

In addition, Dr. Holsinger is a leader in a Lexington, Ky., Methodist church that, in addition to working with the poor, also works with former homosexuals who want to live as heterosexuals. He also voted in 2005, while serving on the United Methodist Church Judicial Council, to remove a lesbian from the pastorate.

Joe Solmonese, president of the homosexual advocacy group Human Rights Campaign, said Dr. Holsinger is “unworthy” to be surgeon general because of his “anti-gay beliefs.”

Conservative activist Paul Weyrich, in a recent column, called these charges an “outrageous” violation of constitutional prohibitions against religious discrimination in considering candidates or nominees for public office.

In addition, a homosexual woman named Maria Kemplin, who worked under Dr. Holsinger at the University of Kentucky Medical Center, wrote a letter to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, stating that her former employer is “a man who does not discriminate.”

Miss Kemplin, who called herself a “liberal Democrat and a member of gay and women’s rights organizations,” said Dr. Holsinger supported a session on lesbian health at a women’s conference, and also helped her find a specialist for her artificially inseminated pregnancy.

Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop also wrote a letter to Mr. Kennedy in support of Dr. Holsinger, pointing out that he has never before “written on behalf of a nominee.”

“I know that Dr. Holsinger will … serve as a strong voice for the public health needs of all Americans,” Mr. Koop said.