Friday, President Obama signed the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act of 2009 and announced the end of the ban on HIV-positive travel and immigration. The bipartisan effort to end the ban is being applauded throughout the blogging world, but is drawing particular enthusiasm from the gay community, which only recently had many members protesting in Washington over Obama's perceived inattention to gay marriage and gays in the military.
The HIV travel ban has not, traditionally, loomed as large in the public consciousness as other gay-rights issues such as "don't ask don't tell." But, as commentators' response makes clear, there are some for whom the end of the ban is a matter of tremendous importance--an historic public and personal victory. Here's what's being said:
- 'Free At Last,' writes the Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan, one of the most prominent and outspoken advocates for lifting the ban. "Thank you. Thank you. Thank you." The announcement is not just an ordinary political cause:
For me, it is the end of 16 years of profound insecurity. Like many others, my application for permanent residence and citizenship can go forward. And I will be able to see my family again in England and know that my HIV will not force me to choose between my husband and the country I have come to call my home. There is no price to be put on that.
- About Time "It only took 22 years for our government to realize that the HIV virus is not the very contagious 'gay flu,'" writes Wonkette's Jim Newell. Nevertheless, he thinks this is "[g]reat news ... : America is now .0000000001% less insane and bigoted!"
- 'Bravo,' Kevin K. responds simply at Rumproast. "Wingnut meltdown in 3 ... 2 ... 1 ...," he predicts.
- Bipartisan Effort The Washington Montly's Steve Benen seems to disagree with Kevin K.'s prediction. He acknowledges that "[t]he last major effort to drop the ban ... fell apart in the face of intense right-wing criticism," but says he thinks "the country has come a long way since then." He also points out that the legislative change was championed by both Senator Kerry (D-MA) and Senator Smith (R-OR), with President Bush approving the proposal. "It's a win for common sense, human decency, and bipartisanship," he concludes.
- Don't Stop Here, urges John Aravosis at Americablog. "[T]he president deserves our thanks," he says, but he reminds readers of "all the pressure it took from the grassroots to get us to this point. It's been a not-so-good year in gay community/President Obama relations." He hopes that the president will now move to tackling issues such as "don't ask don't tell."