26 AIDS Activists Arrested Protesting Needle-Exchange Waffling

3596771280_d746936b6f The Obama Administration went back on Candidate Obama's pledge to end a ban on needle-exchange funding, with a spokesperson saying, "We have not removed the ban in our budget proposal because we want to work with Congress and the American public to build support for this change."

In protest, 26 AIDS activists chained themselves together in the Capitol Rotunda this morning, causing quite a scene.

All were arrested and booked on charges including disorderly conduct, loud and boisterous behavior and unlawful assembly.

As AmericaBlog points out, the scenario of a campaign pledge put off for an indeterminate time while garnering support (with no signs of action) might ring a few bells.


  1. JeffRob says

    Oh, boy. Needle exchange is about as controversial an issue as it gets. I’ll concede that Obama is not working as quickly as his campaign statement could be interpreted to promise, but building consensus on this issue is hardly a repulsive position to take. I mean, handing out syringes to heroin addicts is not exactly a benign request.

    Anyway, John Aravosis is a shrill, miseducated, horrendous spokesperson for our community, and I hope Towleroad and Pam’s House Blend hold a common-sense/reality intervention for him, and soon.

  2. Wayne says

    So back when Obama needed our gay votes and our gay dollars during the election it was all about the “fierce urgency of now” and how Obama will be a “fierce advocate” for gay Americans. Now that Obama is elected its all about patience and B.S. stalling tactics.


  3. Paul R says

    I don’t consider needle exchange a pressing gay issue. It’s a public health issue, but very few gay men get HIV through needles. Not to mention, it’s legal to buy needles in almost every state, and they’re cheap ($1-2 for 10).

    People don’t like needle exchanges because it usually means you have addicts congregating in public places, and often using drugs nearby and discarding syringes carelessly. I lived a block from a needle exchange that runs weekly, and it often led to some very unpleasant sites in plain view. (Note that I had an addicted friend who I would pick up needles for because he was so far gone that he didn’t care about clean needles, so I’m not exactly a naif about these matters.)

    I’d be far more interested in developing a rational approach to drug addiction and treatment, and ending the inane “war” on drugs, than complaining about a lack of free needles.

  4. BillyBoy says

    There has to be a more reliable source than Americablog, which has lately proved itself thoroughly unreliable and borderline hysterical. Towleroad should be able to do better.

  5. The Phoenix says

    What you see as “handing out syringes to heroin addicts is not exactly a benign request.” I see as inhibiting the HIV virus and reigning in unnecessary spending. While I don’t support IV drug use, ignoring the problem altogether will not make it go away.

    President O SHAM A and this Congress of cowards is frittering away it’s edge while lives are lost. There will indeed come a point when they don’t even have their precious clout to bargain with. At that point, none of this will matter anyway and the dream again becomes deferred.

    You can damn well bet the Republicans aren’t sipping tea while laying in wait.

  6. Catalystic says


  7. Toro Castano says

    Needle exchange further benefits public health as it is often the primary/only health contact for a population at risk for speading communicable diseases.

  8. Henry Holland says

    I’m not a fan of John Aravosis –he’s a Reagan Republican who only supports Dem causes because the GOP are such blatant homophobes– but can anyone really argue with this in Matthew’s link?

    Let’s see…

    1. The candidate promised to lift the ban.
    2. The White House Web site reaffirmed the president’s commitment to lifting the ban.
    3. The White House Web site no longer reaffirms his commitment to lifting the ban.
    4. The president now refuses to lift the ban.
    5. The president actually affirmatively makes things worse by administratively supporting defending the ban.
    6. The spokesman reiterates the president’s support for lifting the ban, some day, once Congress gets around to it.

    Sound familiar?

  9. TK96 says

    Man. Another day, another campaign
    promise revealed to be bunk.

    This man isn’t a leader.

    He is a bullshit artist.

    I disagreed with almost every single thing
    Bush did. But at least he had some conviction and a set of balls.

  10. Mike K says

    I love the way you all seem to think they’re not important because they are drug users. I’m old enough to remember when no one though doing anything about HIV was important because it only infected “fags”. What comfortable pills some of us have become.

  11. Matt says

    Jesus Obama, again?

    Obama has a great approval rating and a Democratic majority in congress. I think he can take a few dings in his popularity to do some things that he
    1) said he would do
    2) wold benefit the public in the long run
    A leader is supposed to LEAD which occasionally means doing things that are unpopular but ultimately helpful.

    Personally, I think the make or break issue for Obama is if average american families see their lives improve in this recession- he could take a dump on Betsy Ross’ grave and still get re-elected if he can get americans employed.

  12. JeffRob says

    Well, Mike K, you can the lead the fight for the civil rights of IV drug users, then.

    And seriously:
    “Hope and change my ass.”
    “President O SHAM A”

    You guys are absolutely ridiculous. Lost gay faith in Obama is the product of paranoia, lifetimes of discrimination, and lying president after lying president. It’s delusional and wrong.

    You are seriously paranoid if you think Obama is some crazy hoodwinker who completely duped us and has no intention of advancing our rights. And I still do believe racism is playing its part. Clinton, our last best ally, passed DOMA and DADT last decade for gods sake, and he’s not exactly our avowed enemy for it.

  13. RB says

    And I caught so much hell for supporting McCain. Funny actually how I didn’t drink the koolaid. Obama is holding true to himself, who he really is and not the campaigning please vote for me liar that so many can now see.

    I have said this many times and I will say it again, I can trust the devil that I know better than the one that I lies to my face anyday. McCain didn’t make a boat load of promises to the LGBT community. Obama did! Which one lied?

  14. Mike KK says

    Wow JEFFROB you got all that from my small comment. Even managed to somehow make it about race? About you maybe? Civil rights are something guaranteed by the constitution for everyone. Grab a copy.

  15. Trace says

    Whether you like Americablog or not.. it isnt relevant to this article. The point.. factually pointed out.. not someone’s opinion is the the Administration makes promises and then conveniently forgets about them for political expediency.

    Wake up people… we are in that same boat! We are in the back of the bus with this administration and they will throw us off if it helps them out. There is a pattern here..

  16. Mike KK says

    Wow JEFFROB you got all that from my small comment. Even managed to somehow make it about race? Maybe about you? Civil rights are something guaranteed by the constitution for everyone. Grab a copy.

  17. Paul R says

    RB, complimenting McCain for not promising anything to the LGBT community is not exactly making me think I threw away a vote on Obama. Having a changed tone and even the slightest progress is better than having a president who didn’t even know what LGBT meant and likely still couldn’t tell you. McCain’s own daughter excorciates him and the GOP on LGBT issues, so I wouldn’t gloat too much about voting for him.

  18. Paul R says

    By the way, most hardcore heroin addicts—the kind who can’t afford to spend $1 on clean needles but can scrape together money for drugs—will die of other causes (overdoses, infections) before HIV takes them out.

    Again, I support needle exchanges as a public health issue, but ask yourself how many people in your neighborhood are going to allow a needle exchange to operate? (Even “liberal” California has them in only a few cities.) Then ask yourself how this is a gay issue, which tend to be the focus of this site.

  19. says

    Someone who pretends to support you but doesn’t is better than someone who tells the truth about it? Look at the time wasted because you thought BO was pro-gay. Now we have to fight for “our guy) to agree to do something and hope he is telling the truth? Plz

  20. mike shackleford says

    Yes, I agree that Americablog is drama-bordering-on hysteria & it’s owner, Aravosis, is a Andy Sullivan-styled Republican but this time Aravosis does make a good point.
    Meantime, don’t expect any “intervention” by the Houseblend or Andy Towle as they’re all homies.

  21. Let'sFaceIt says

    RB : I BET you took a lot of hell for supporting McCain. Were called a self-hating Uncle Tom, and all the usual. Although I supported and voted for Obama, I never agreed with demonizing McCain supporters. But don’t worry. At least now the most arrogantly pompous gay Obama supporters are getting just what they deserved.

  22. DUPREE says

    No they’re not getting what they deserved …..

    But guess what girls just don’t for him 2012. And lets really see where LGBT power lies in this country.

    Just remmeber 21% of you queens voted for McCain the highest ever for a republican. And look where that shit got you.

    Now try it again in 2012 and really see where it’s going to get you.


  23. JT says

    If McCain hadn’t chosen Palin as VP, I think he would have been a legitimate option for those who agreed more with his economic policies and the like. On the gay issues I don’t see that there would have been any difference from what we have now.

  24. mike shackleford says

    Let’s hope that the Progressive Wing of the Dem Party will agitate for a challanger to Obama in 2012. Should they not, perhaps it’s time to look to a third party option.

  25. DUPREE says

    What fucking economic policies? He (McCain) admitted he didn’t know much about the economy. So we would have been in even worse shape!

    This sconomy has not been like this since the great depression. So who really has an answer? Big Business doesn’t. All they want is tax breaks and will still send the jobs overseas.

    I just think Pres Obama needs to be upfront about why he has back tracked on some of his promises, and have a little more back bone on LGBT issues.

    But calling him all these names and even if more of you don’t vote for him in 2012 I really don’t think it will advance the LGBT cause at all.

  26. RB says

    “Just remmeber 21% of you queens voted for McCain the highest ever for a republican. And look where that shit got you.”

    Well Dupree, if it gets us no where in 2012 we certainly will not have lost anything gained by the current adminstration now will we?

    I am still hopeful that Obama will do the right thing on LGBT issues. However, with the dems in control of everything, and I mean everything, and we do not achieve civil rights then when will we?

    I hope that Obama does bring real and lasting change. I want the right wingnut stranglehold of the repub party shattered and with any hope I will stop hearing how the “dems are always better for us” from the gays. At this point we are no further than we were under the last administration. And NO I NEVER VOTED FOR W! Even as a repub. Having recently left the party I am not signed on as a dem either. As I have said so many times, neither party is on our side! Now we have proof.

  27. Paul Scott says

    Needle Exchange is no longer so controversial. In the 2009 Texas legislative session, it passed in the Senate 23-6 (Republican controlled). The Chair of the House Commttee said passage was the “Christian” thing to do. The only reason it did not pass in the House this year was that it was the victim of extended debate on bills before it and time ran out. So, if there is bipartisan support in Texas, then we can get support at the national level.

  28. says

    Here we go again: At least Bush had balls. At least McCain/Palin openly despised us instead of being sneaky about it. I told you so and I wasn’t the one to drink the Obama Kool-Aid, blah blah blah.

    McCain is not president, thank god. We have 3 more years to pressure Obama on needle exchange and on a host of gay issues. That’s an opportunity. We have Dem’s in Congress who want to work with us. So we can get busy trying to influence those who HAVE made us promises, or we can delude ourselves into thinking that openly antagonistic Republicans would have somehow had our best interests anywhere on their radar screens. Get real.

  29. Mr. E says

    Wow, ignorance abounds! Needle Exchange IS a gay issue because HIV/AIDS is a gay issue.
    needle exchange decreases the rate of HIV transmission by 80%!!!!!! And yes, there are many(!) lgbt individuals who are using IV drugs. Gays can be/are drug addicts too.

    And on a side note, the ignorance and arrogance of so many of you gays on this site is a shame and you do much more harm to us than anyone else. The vitriol spewed at each other here is worse than on many right wing sites.

  30. Paul R says

    The fact is that politicians aren’t keeping their LGBT-related promises because health care, energy/climate change, and especially the economy are the top items on their plates right now. If they spent too much time on “social issues,” they’d be pilloried by all sorts of people, and they don’t see any point in spending that political capital. (I can basically hear Rahm Emmanuel arguing this point.)

    And the fact is, they ignore us because there aren’t that many of us, and many among us don’t even bother to vote. And they take us for granted, because we vote Democratic in such huge blocs. Politics is ugly.

  31. says

    OK, the ban has been reversed for the moment by House Dems:
    (Though it’s still possible the Repubs will attempt to stop it.
    For those of you praising McCain et al, please note that it was Dems FOR lifting the ban and Republicans AGAINST.)

    Sometimes I wonder if Obama’s strategy is to stall on selected issues until people get mad and do things themselves or through other channels, so he doesn’t have to spend political capital. Politics suck, but the important thing here is the results. Maybe getting mad and demonstrating changes the context (public opinion) enough to make changing things like DOMA and DADT easier.

Leave A Reply