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HIV Travel Ban Lifted; First Traveler to Arrive at JFK Today

As of today, the nation's decades-old HIV Travel and Immigration Ban is no more. Immigration Equality's Steve Ralls reports in the Huffington Post that an HIV-positive gay man arriving today from The Netherlands will be the first to freely and safely enter the U.S.:

Jfk "The arrival of Clemens Ruland and Hugo Bausch will also signal the end of a shameful and discriminatory policy that has exacted a heavy price on our country's reputation in the scientific community and kept countless individuals - both straight and gay - separated from their loved ones."

On Top reports: "Ruland, 45, works with young people in the criminal system. He was infected in New York by an ex-lover and diagnosed HIV-positive in 1997. Anti Retroviral Therapy has kept his virus load undetectable. He returned to visit the U.S. once in 2005, but said he feared being detained. Bausch, 50, an illustrator, is HIV-negative. The Dutch AIDS service organization SOAAIDS is behind the visit. Ruland entered a poem into the group's essay contest to win the couple's passage to New York City."

Said Obama on signing the order to lift the ban in October: "Twenty-two years ago, in a decision rooted in fear rather than fact, the United States instituted a travel ban on entry into the country for people living with HIV/AIDS.  Now, we talk about reducing the stigma of this disease -- yet we've treated a visitor living with it as a threat.  We lead the world when it comes to helping stem the AIDS pandemic -- yet we are one of only a dozen countries that still bar people from HIV from entering our own country. If we want to be the global leader in combating HIV/AIDS, we need to act like it.  And that's why, on Monday my administration will publish a final rule that eliminates the travel ban effective just after the New Year.  Congress and President Bush began this process last year, and they ought to be commended for it.  We are finishing the job.  It's a step that will encourage people to get tested and get treatment, it's a step that will keep families together, and it's a step that will save lives. "

Watch: Obama Signs Ryan White Act, Lifts 'Fear'-Based Ban on Travel and Immigration for People with HIV [tr]

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  1. In a period when meaningful health care reform is being diluted to the point of negating any positive change and environmental reform is off the table entirely, thanks to a democratically controlled senate that is seemingly out of touch with the wishes of their (mainly democratic) constituents, I think it's important to celebrate these achievements by the Obama administration.

    While I believe Obama should immediately sign an executive order temporarily halting discharges of gay and lesbian military personal pending the elimination of DODT, I applaud his very public statements of support for gay and lesbian people and causes, and the prompt signing of the Matthew Shepard Anti Hate Crimes law and today's LONG awaited HIV travel ban recision.

    We made the mistake with Clinton is believing that a President alone could change laws and make things right for gay and lesbian America. I hope we've learned from that period. What we need to do is put our money and our efforts into challenging the seats of ANY politician who stands in the way of gay and lesbian rights or other meaningful social reforms. It is only by changing the face of the house and senate that we will release this country from the stronghold of lobbyists and powerful right wing activists.

    Every time a gay and lesbian positive bill has come before him, Pres. Obama has signed it swiftly into law. For this alone, he has my admiration and support. Each one of these victories sends a message to the world (and to our country) that the US respects and values its gay and lesbian citizens. We have a long way to go, but we won't get there without a leader like Obama standing behind us.

    I hope in 2010 we will devote our passion (and our anger and disappointment) towards the members of the DNC, senate and house) who work AGAINST us. That's where the true enemy lies.

    Posted by: Lewis Payton | Jan 4, 2010 11:33:54 AM

  2. Mr. Payton apparently learned only part of the lesson from the Bill Clinton years, and the lesser one.

    The primary one is that promises alone, even when they're written or spoken with sincerity MEAN NOTHING. Yet, here he is singing the one verse theme song of the Obama Tabernacle Choir: "What A Friend We Have In Jesus er Barry." That's papering over a political vacuum with personality cult pieties.

    What part of the man who promised two years ago to actively begin to dismantle DADT "when I take office," who said in June that discharging gays "weakens national security" REFUSING to "immediately sign an executive order temporarily halting discharges of gay and lesbian military personal pending the elimination of DADT" [which Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has ALSO said he can and should do]...even lamely trying to pretend he doesn't have the authority when nothing could make more plain than Congressionally-passed 10 United States Code § 12305 ("Authority of the President to Suspend Certain Laws Relating to Promotion, Retirement, and Separation") somehow does not fit your call to challenge "ANY politician who stands in the way of gay and lesbian rights"?

    Obama a "leader" for LGBT equality???? Sure, this one repeatedly said, "Elect me and I will be that leader," but you must be talking about a different one than the Obama who has sent his Department of INjustice repeatedly into court to defend both DADT and DOMA in the same homophobic terms used to pass them in the first place, sent his lieutenants to twist Cong. Alcee Hastings' arm into withdrawing his effort to freeze discharges through the 2010 defense budget and members of the Senate to refuse to support Sen. Gillebrand's planned effort to do something similar, and now ordered his Office of Personnel Management to DEFY a federal judge's order to allow a lesbian court employee to purchase medical insurance for her partner [even tho he did NOT rule on the constitutionality of DOMA].

    One hopes both he and you have seen the movie "Invictus" in which Nelson Mandela's advisor warns him that he will lose political capital if he does such and such because the people are against it. Mandela replies that they elected him to LEAD and if they stop supporting him when he does he no longer wishes to be President.

    The bitter irony, of course, is that allowing out gays to serve is second only to job equality among those rights the America public supports, including conservative Repugs.

    It's a new year and long past time to take off the Obama "Yes We Can" t-shirt and demand "Why aren't you?"

    Posted by: Michael @ | Jan 4, 2010 1:02:34 PM

  3. Bitter much?

    Once again, Obama taking action is characterized as only promises. How's that work again? Oh yeah, blinded by dogma.

    Posted by: David R. | Jan 4, 2010 1:09:34 PM

  4. UGH, Michael @, you are such a fucking blind tool!

    You can't even acknowledge real action when it is in front of your face.

    I agree, David R. he sure is blinded.

    Posted by: DJ | Jan 4, 2010 6:21:43 PM

  5. @DJ/David R: Michael seems to be denouncing Obama for not being a leader on LGBT-specific issues. Given that, your comments regarding "real action" don't seem to be in context since this is not action on an LGBT-specific issue; people can contract HIV/AIDS regardless of sexual orientation.

    His most pro-LGBT actions so far seem to be appointments of openly LGBT persons to federal offices (IMO, these are not accidents, thus they are pro-LGBT) and extending a few benefits to same-sex spouses of federal employees. The hate crimes bill was a rider on a must-pass military spending bill so it's hard to call that a pro-LGBT accomplishment on Obama's part. I have a feeling that Bush would have signed it too (although Bush might have used a signing statement to nullify the hate crimes provisions, Obama's not doing so is not pro-LGBT per se).

    Posted by: Patrick Garies | Jan 5, 2010 6:02:33 AM

  6. @ Patrick..I beg to differ my friend this is POLITICS and however you can get it...JUST GET!!!
    So what it's attached to a Military spending bill.

    And you think BUSH would have signed this???? The mothefucker had 8 yrs.
    Care to explain why we didn't get it under him?

    The problem with some gays is you expect everything to be customed for your taste.

    FUCK ALL THAT BULL! Get the bills passed


    Posted by: Precious Magillicutty | Jan 5, 2010 6:41:18 AM

  7. Hopefully they will attach the "Repeal of DADT" to the next Military spending bill, as it should be!

    Posted by: thomasAlex | Jan 7, 2010 1:05:32 AM

  8. @Patrick

    Are you kidding?

    Bush specifically threatened to veto any defense budget that had the hate crimes provision attached to it. He figured Congress wouldn't risk troop funding over that.

    And he was right.

    Pelosi and Reid did what they do best - cave into Republican demands - and stripped the Matthew Shepard Act out of the DOD Authorization Bill at the last minute.

    Obama, on the other hand, signed last year's DOD legislation because it included provisions that he favors (e.g. hate crimes and increased benefits for the troops), even though he had expressed his displeasure over the fact that Congress hadn't scrapped the F-22 program completely like he wanted. They scaled it back somewhat. But we are going to get several dozen more of these unreliable disasters because that's what defense contractors want.

    Posted by: John | Jan 7, 2010 2:21:12 AM

  9. Thus leaving his fate the same, and not changing history in the slightest. With the idea of time travel comes the fantasy of going back and seeing the dinosaurs, and meeting the long lost grandpa. But if travel is achieved by means of a time machine,

    Posted by: see website | Dec 1, 2012 6:35:45 AM

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