Head of AIDS Advisory Panel Ousted
7 February 2003
-- Patricia Ware, the executive director of the Presidential
Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS, has resigned her post
following the controversy that greeted her recommendation of
Jerry Thacker, an anti-gay activist, to the panel. In an
effort to lessen the political impact of her departure,
officials from the Bush administration told the Washington
Post Ware was being promoted to a more senior role within the
Department of Health and Human Services.
close to the deliberations, however, insisted Ware was moved
to avoid further embarrassment over the selection of Thacker,
who has described AIDS as the "gay plague" and
homosexuality as a "death style." Thacker withdrew
his nomination on Jan. 23.
has ties to the previous Bush administration where she served
as a conservative advisor on social policy. A long-time
darling of the far right, Ware has been a leading proponent of
abstinence-only sex education.
Post quotes several sources who said Ware's support of Thacker
was the last straw. Her tenure as the top staff member for the
35-person advisory panel has been marked by a series of bitter
confrontations with national AIDS advocacy groups in
Smith of the Human Rights Campaign said the administration's
drive to leave its ideological stamp on the panel has
destroyed its legitimacy. "This is just rearranging deck
chairs on the Titanic," he said, adding the whole
abstinence before marriage approach, "is not
scientifically sound and ignores gay people."
Post says much of the controversy revolved around comments
Ware made regarding the role of gay, white men both in
spreading the AIDS virus and in controlling many of the most
influential AIDS organizations.
an out gay man, I found Pat Ware to be on the verge of
homophobic," said the Levi Strauss Foundation's Stuart
Burden, who served on the council until last year. "It
appeared at times that she wanted to blame the gay community
was a champion of Thacker and [the administration] wanted to
get that behind them," one council member close to the
White House told the newspaper. "Getting rid of her was
the way to go."