Minnesota house eliminates funding for state's largest AIDS group
The Minnesota house on Friday passed a budget bill that contains an amendment by a right-wing lawmaker that strips all state funding from the Minnesota AIDS Project because the legislator objected to what he called sexually explicit language and content in the group's HIV prevention programs, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. The amendment was sponsored by Republican Tom Emmer, who objected to language on the MAP-sponsored Pride Alive Web site, designed to provide HIV and sexually transmitted disease prevention information to sexually active gay men. Emmer's amendment also bans any state funds from going to any organization that uses sexually explicit language or imagery in any Web site, pamphlet, or other HIV prevention information.
Lorraine Teel, executive director of MAP, says Emmer's amendment would eliminate about $425,000 from the agency's annual budget. She also has repeatedly pointed out to lawmakers that the Pride Alive program is privately funded and used no tax dollars. That fact also is prominently announced on the Pride Alive Web site.
State health officials had opposed Emmer's amendment, saying MAP provides needed services in the state and the language that Emmer found so upsetting was appropriate for its target audience.
The version of the health department budget bill currently before the state senate does not include HIV spending restrictions, but MAP officials expect conservative, right-wing lawmakers to attempt to introduce a similar amendment there to eliminate MAP's funding.
MAP is the largest HIV services provider in Minnesota, with about 60 full-time employees and 1,400 volunteers. The state funding Republicans are attempting to strip from the organization is used for the state AIDS hotline, HIV antibody testing clinics, and HIV prevention programs.