NEW JERSEY’S LEADING LGBTQ ORGANIZATIONS & ALLIES EXPRESS OUTRAGE OVER TRUMP’S CRUEL INDIFFERENCE TO HIV/AIDS ADVOCATES
Asbury Park – LGBTQ organizations and allies across New Jersey expressed outrage today over President Trump’s firing off the remaining members of the HIV/AIDS advisory council. The members were fired without warning and – and in a move indicative of the cowardice of this president - by way of letters sent through FedEx.
The ten remaining members of the council received their termination letters on Wednesday, December 27, with no indication of when the Trump administration might begin to make new appointments.
“This mass firing is yet another example of the Trump Administration’s efforts to undermine LGBT related issues,” said Christian Fuscarino, Executive Director of Garden State Equality. “The advisory council was assembled with professionals and persons living with HIV/AIDS that fought for the betterment of those affected by the virus. Given the track record of the Trump administration, we are fearful Trump’s picks to replace these appointees will be wildly unqualified for the roles, if they are even replaced at all.”
While it is not uncommon to see changes in federal advisory committees, historically presidential administrations had allowed members to serve full terms before appointing replacements. This was often done in an effort to make transition periods as seamless as possible and help keep members focused on committee objectives.
“President Trump’s firing without explanation of the remainder of the HIV/AIDS Council is yet another slap in the face to our LGBTQ family and friends,” said New Jersey Governor Elect Phil Murphy. “Real leadership means governing with inclusivity, respect, and dignity.”
Since the council was founded in 1995, its responsibilities centered around advising the White House on HIV/AIDS policies. Members of the council, known by the acronym PACHA, are unpaid and offer recommendations on the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, a five-year plan responding to the epidemic.
“Hyacinth AIDS Foundation is outraged by President Trump’s unilateral decision to dismiss all members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS,” said Kathy Ahearn-O’Brien, the Executive Director Hyacinth AIDS Foundation. “With tremendous strides in treatment and prevention, we are seeing great strides in reducing the numbers of new infections. Dismantling this council now is simply inappropriate. With 1.2 million Americans still living with the virus, we need a unified front from all departments within the U.S. government if we truly want to end this epidemic.”
The firings followed numerous prior resignations from members of the HIV/AIDS advisory council who felt the Trump administration was taking steps to hinder progress in the fight against the disease. These departures were taking place as early as June of 2017.
“As the leading and largest LGBTQ Center in New Jersey, we are appalled and angered at Trump's decision to abruptly dismiss the remaining members of the HIV/AIDS Council,” said Michael Billy from the Hudson Pride Connections Center. “The council is an integral part of policies and funding in the national fight to end this epidemic. This latest attack from The White House is another hostile move in silencing, erasing and displacing LGBTQ people, people living with HIV and Black Americans who are affected most.”