- The Washington Times - Friday, July 13, 2007

President Bush’s surgeon general nominee yesterday rebutted accusations that he is biased against homosexuals, telling a Senate committee he has “deep appreciation for the single humanity of everyone” regardless of their sexual orientation.

“I believe every [medical] practitioner needs to understand the health needs of the gay and lesbian community,” said James W. Holsinger Jr., who spoke before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

Homosexual rights groups have opposed Dr. Holsinger’s nomination, citing a paper he wrote in 1991 that said homosexual sex posed higher risks of disease and bodily damage than heterosexual sex.

“Dr. Holsinger’s paper is ideological and decidedly not an accurate analysis of the science then available on homosexuality,” said committee Chairman Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat. It “cherry-picks and misuses data to support his thesis that homosexuality is unhealthy and unnatural.”

Dr. Holsinger, 68, a professor at the University of Kentucky College of Public Health, said he drafted the paper for a study committee of the United Methodist Church, and that it was not a “definitive scientific paper.”

He said the document is no longer relevant, given the medical community’s current understanding of the role of homosexual practices in the spread of AIDS/HIV.

“The majority of papers that were cited [in the 1991 document] were 1986, 1988 papers,” Dr. Holsinger said. “I don’t even think today the same questions would be asked today as were asked 20 years ago.”

Sen. Michael B. Enzi of Wyoming, the committee’s ranking Republican, defended Dr. Holsinger as “forthcoming, knowledgeable and compassionate.”

The committee is expected to vote on whether to send Dr. Holsinger’s nomination to the Senate this summer. Mr. Bush last month nominated Dr. Holsinger as surgeon general to replace Dr. Richard Carmona, whose four-year term expired last July.

The surgeon general is the nation”s chief health educator, tasked with disseminating information to improve the health of Americans and to reduce the risk of illness.

Dr. Holsinger said one of his top priorities if confirmed would be to tackle obesity, especially in children. He said he would support legislation to regulate vending machines that sell soda and snacks in schools, and would support a ban of “junk food” television advertisements.

The Kentuckian also would use his position as surgeon general to help make the United States a “tobacco-free nation.”

Dr. Holsinger worked for 26 years for the Department of Veterans Affairs in various high-level positions, and later served as chancellor of the University of Kentucky Medical Center and led the state’s health care system.

Conservative groups have criticized Dr. Holsinger’s opposition to a 2002 Kentucky bill to ban cloning. He said penalties proposed in the bill were disproportionately severe on patients and researchers.

He told senators he supports Mr. Bush’s opposition to using federal funds for embryonic-stem-cell research and cloning.

Mr. Kennedy yesterday introduced legislation that would require surgeon general nominees to be drawn from a list of the nation’s top physicians prepared by the nonprofit Institute of Medicine.

c This article was based in part on wire service reports.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide