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National Perspective

Gay Republican to Head Bush's AIDS Office

April 09, 2001|From the Washington Post

WASHINGTON — President Bush plans to name a gay Republican as the director of his Office of National AIDS Policy today and will broaden its mission to focus on the disease's spread internationally, an administration official said Sunday.

The director is to be Scott H. Evertz, 38, a fund-raising executive with a faith-based senior citizens' program in Milwaukee and formerly a development official for an AIDS ministry. He is the first gay person to lead the office, which was started by President Clinton in 1994 and has had three other directors.

Bush also plans to announce a task force to address the AIDS crisis internationally, particularly in Africa. The group will be co-chaired by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy G. Thompson. It will include National Security advisor Condoleezza Rice and Bush's domestic policy advisor, Margaret La Montagne.

Evertz, who is to start work later this month, will be one of four full-time employees in the office. He said in an interview that one of his goals is to refocus federal AIDS prevention efforts to reduce the infection rate among young African American men, particularly in poor communities.

"No one's at fault, but we've got to do something about that because that's just wrong," Evertz said. "Some have said that in the case of young, gay black males, the infection rate is related to a stigma within the African American community about homosexuality. If that's a fact, then we need to look at how we, with our prevention strategies, prevent this."

Evertz is the Wisconsin president of the Log Cabin Republicans, the nation's largest gay and lesbian Republican organization. He has held that post for three years and was among a dozen gay Republicans who met with Bush in Austin, Texas, last April after the GOP presidential candidate had refused for months to see a delegation chosen by the Log Cabin Republicans.

Rich Tafel, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, said Evertz will be the first openly gay official in the Bush administration. Tafel said the administration has been "very cooperative in working with us."

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