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Officials call on drug companies to repudiate "gay bashing"

Officials call on drug companies to repudiate "gay bashing"

A letter signed by 40 gay and lesbian public officials from around the country on Monday called on Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America members to repudiate the "political gay bashing" by USA Next, an organization funded primarily by PhRMA. "USA Next gratuitously and inaccurately attacked the American Association of Retired Persons as a supporter of same-sex marriage in the course of the debate on President Bush's proposal for the partial privatization of Social Security," said the letter, released by openly gay U.S. representative Barney Frank and the Gay and Lesbian Leadership Institute. "I have no reason to believe that this attempt to scapegoat GLBT individuals reflects the views of PhRMA's member companies," Frank said. "But since PhRMA has helped pay for this advertising by USA Next, we think it is appropriate to ask them to repudiate this act and to take steps to prevent its repetition." The letter explained that USA Next "sought to discredit AARP's views on the important question of Social Security by asserting that AARP advocated the recognition of same-sex marriages. Leaving aside the apparent inaccuracy of this characterization of AARP's position, what is left is the effort by this organization, which you have helped fund, to use support for the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people as a weapon in a controversy which is in fact entirely unrelated to it. The approach taken by USA Next--the current name for the United Seniors Association--both assumes hostility to GLBT people and seeks to reinforce it. This sort of blatant, inflammatory appeal to prejudice to discredit people of opposing views in an unrelated controversy is an example of the degradation of political dialogue, and on that ground alone we would hope that you would be distressed at USA Next's approach. And as elected officials, who are also members of the LGBT community, we particularly hope that you will make clear your disapproval of this mean-spirited assault on us and millions of Americans like us which USA Next's tactic represented."

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