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Ohio antigay
group launches campaign against AIDS organizations

Ohio antigay
group launches campaign against AIDS organizations

Antigay group files for access to thousands of documents about HIV prevention work.

Mission America, a Columbus, Ohio-based conservative group with strong ties to the antigay group Concerned Women of America, has filed a large Freedom of Information Act request for tens of thousands of documents about the state's AIDS service organizations, reports Gay People's Chronicle. Gay activists say the request was made to both intimidate organizations conducting HIV prevention work in the gay community as well as to put political pressure on lawmakers to stop funding AIDS programs targeting gay men.

Concerned Women of America, which teaches that "finding homosexuality repulsive is a natural human instinct," opposes any publicly funded programs that in any way condone or support homosexuality, including HIV prevention instruction, reports the Chronicle.

"The millions of dollars spend on pointless education about condoms and safe sex don't seem to change the behaviors of most homosexuals," Mission America founder Linda Harvey says on the organization's Web site. Her organization's "Choice 4 Truth" program claims that gay organizations began exploiting the AIDS crisis in the 1980s--and continue to exploit it today--as a way to gain local, state, and federal funding to "promote the homosexual cause."

Harvey is seeking state health department records from 2000 to 2005 about funding to AIDS service organizations, copies of all HIV prevention materials released by AIDS organizations, lobbying materials, and funding information about lobbying efforts on behalf of AIDS groups as well as state data on AIDS deaths by mode of transmission, numbers of new infections, and modes of transmission for new infections.

Earl Pike, executive director of the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland, suspects that a larger antigay conservative group, possibly Concerned Women of America, may be behind Harvey's crusade against HIV prevention work in Ohio. "Your FOI request...evidences an advanced knowledge of HIV/AIDS that I can find nowhere else in the writings on your Web site," Pike wrote in a letter to Harvey that accompanied more than 1,500 pages of documents about the organization, according to the Chronicle. "It is reasonable to suppose that you had some assistance in drafting this request. My question, then, is this: Who might you or Mission America have worked with to prepare and submit the request?"

Pike said in a March 22 press conference that he submitted the documents to Harvey to show his agency's support of open access to public information and to highlight the transparency of his and other AIDS organizations in the state. He also said that no matter what the paperwork may show, he expects Harvey and Mission America will find any HIV prevention program that teaches anything other than abstinence to be questionable. The right-wing group will work to end public funding of such programs as condom instruction and distribution as well as those that conduct outreach to gay men in bathhouses and sex clubs, he says. (The Advocate)

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