LAMBDA ISSUES 2000 WORLD AIDS DAY REPORT CARD
(NEW YORK, November 27, 2000) — Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, with its fifth annual World AIDS Day report card, handed out dunce caps to Texas’ top health official and the New York Catholic diocese’s new bishop for their failures in responding to the AIDS epidemic.
Top grades this year went to a Pulitzer prize-winning reporter, several lawmakers in California, New Jersey and New York, and activists including a crusading nun who operates the largest online database of AIDS resources.
For the first time since Lambda first issued its World AIDS Day Report Card in 1996, the annual ranking of key players in AIDS-related public policy, prevention, and treatment was dedicated to memory of three activists – Kiyoshi Kuromiya, Stephen Gendin, and Gary Bailey – who each died this year.
“World AIDS Day reminds us of progress and terrible losses in our battle against this international plague,” said Lambda Executive Director Kevin M. Cathcart on the eve of the worldwide observance on December 1. “The fighters we have lost to AIDS are especially missed, and our determination burns with their memory,” he said.
Some 20 individuals and institutions are graded this year, including:
- F for William Archer, Texas Gov. George W. Bush’s health commissioner. Under his direction, Texas built an abysmal record by failing to provide adequate treatments for people with AIDS. Archer also blamed the state’s high teen pregnancy rate on Latina women and dismissed concerns about the high number of people without insurance in his state.
- F for Edward Egan, the new Archbishop of New York. Bad news for a region with the country’s most people with AIDS: the new spiritual leader of more than two-million New York Catholics in the past opposed sound prevention programs in city schools, saying one option was to “wait for AIDS to put an end to us all.”
- A for Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Mark Schoofs. His series for The Village Voice, “AIDS: The Agony of Africa,” heralded increased attention to the global AIDS epidemic, particularly in Africa, where the devastation is widespread.
- A for Rudy Galindo, the United States men’s figure skating champion in 1996. The first Mexican-American and openly gay professional figure skater, he disclosed his HIV status in April and has since worked tirelessly to promote AIDS awareness.
- A for Internet crusader Sister Mary Elizabeth Clark. A former Navy Chief Petty Officer, this transgendered nun founded her own religious order. Now she singlehandedly runs AEGiS.com, the world’s largest database of AIDS resources, from her parents’ home in San Juan Capistrano, California.
Lambda AIDS Project Director Catherine A. Hanssens said, “Even as people with HIV and AIDS put up a brave fight, astonishing numbers of public figures and government agencies are making AIDS a public policy disaster on top of a brutal epidemic.”
Hanssens noted that the U.S. Supreme Court, in its third appearance in a row in the Lambda report card, received an “incomplete” grade this year, as it ponders a major case involving the Americans with Disabilities Act. (Previous grades have been C and A-.)
Hanssens, a veteran of ADA litigation before the High Court, said, “In recent years, the Justices have dramatically scaled back federal civil rights protections so that all we’re left with are weaker states laws. Will the ADA be the next casualty?”
Others receiving low marks included South Carolina Attorney General Charlie Condon, the scandal-plagued Los Angeles Police Department, as well as an advisory committee of the Food and Drug Administration. Massachusetts Governor Paul Cellucci rated a D, as did Immune Response Corporation, maker of a potential HIV vaccine.
Lambda awarded A’s to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Reps. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Dick Gephardt (D-MO), Sen. Robert Torricelli (D-NJ) and two New York state legislators.
Around the world, the United Nations estimates that 34.3 million people are infected with HIV. Already, 18.8 million have died of AIDS, 3.8 million of them children.
Among the activists in whose memory Lambda dedicated the report card, Kiyoshi Kuromiya was the mastermind behind the Critical Path AIDS Project (www.critpath.org), an on-line activist resource that provides free access to the Internet to thousands of people with HIV in the Philadelphia area.
Stephen Gendin, a fearless writer for POZ magazine, was a driving force in many direct action groups, including ACT UP/New York and ACT UP/Rhode Island.
Gary Bailey was a long time HIV educator in Philadelphia.
Founded in 1973, Lambda is headquartered in New York and has regional offices in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Atlanta.
Peg Byron 212-809-8585 x 230, 888-987-1984 (pager)
Catherine Hanssens 212-809-8585 x 215