Vice President Mike Pence’s incoming chief-of-staff, Marc Short, has been under fire for a column he wrote about a man with HIV, reported The Daily Beast.
The column in question was written by Short for his conservative college newspaper, The Spectator, at Washington & Lee University in Virginia, which Short co-founded and edited from 1989 to 1992.
In the column, entitled “AIDS and the Heterosexual”, Short denounced what he called “the propaganda campaign ignited by gay activists and carelessly perpetuated by journalists whose intent is to scare all heterosexuals into believing they are prime targets for contraction of [HIV/AIDS].”
“The campaign’s purpose,” he continued, “is both to lobby Congress for more federal funding of AIDS research and to destigmatize the perverted lifestyles homosexuals pursue.”
Short referenced a past interview published by the school’s main student newspaper, the Ring-tun Phi, with Washington & Lee alum Edwin Wright, who had been diagnosed with HIV. In the interview, Wright talked about seeing four people die from AIDS and coping with his own impending death.
“Naturally, we feel sympathy for Mr. Wright and all AIDS victims,” Short wrote, “but that does not mean that we glorify homosexuals’ repugnant practices of frequent anal intercourse nor should we consider them brave for coming out of the closet.”
Short concluded his article warning that a similar fate to Wright’s would be that of “homosexuals who pursue unhealthy lifestyles and engage in high risk sexual behavior, specifically anal intercourse.”
“Rhetoric like that killed us,” said ACT-UP activist Peter Staley. “Guys like him wanted us to die. And they had an effect.”
Short released a statement to The Daily Beast expressing his regret towards the ideas published in the column.
“I regret using language as an undergraduate college student that was not reflective of the respect I try to show others today,” he said. “We have all learned a lot about AIDS over the past 30 years and my heart goes out to all the victims of this terrible disease.”
“It’s deeply disturbing but unsurprising that Mike Pence’s incoming chief-of-staff one denigrated people living with HIV and AIDS and called same-sex relationships ‘repugnant,’” the Human Rights Campaign said in a statement. “His boss is responsible for enabling the single worst outbreak of HIV and AIDS in the history of Indiana due to his irresponsible and universally-criticized effort to end funding for needle exchange programs and HIV and AIDS testing centers.”
“Mike Pence has spent his career attacking LGBTQ people and building a record of undermining HIV awareness and prevention initiatives,” the statement continued. “After all this and being in the inner circle of Mike Pence for the past decade, the hiring of Marc Short is not surprising.”
Pence has not yet commented on the column.