The Media Is Erasing George H.W. Bush’s Catastrophic Harm To LGBTQ People | HuffPost
Perhaps that was what Bush “believed,” but it was far from the truth. Bush was as captive to the evangelical right on social issues — and thus a decidedly Republican president — as was his predecessor, Ronald Reagan, who cultivated religious conservatives as a potent political force and bowed to their anti-LGBTQ agenda as the AIDS epidemic mushroomed in the 1980s.
Reagan’s history of callously ignoring the epidemic while thousands died is well-documented. Bush, at the outset of his term, promised a “kinder, gentler” presidency than the man he’d served under as vice president. He even gave a speech on the AIDS epidemic in 1990, which was long on compassion but short on strategy and commitment to funding. During the speech, in fact, Urvashi Vaid, an invited guest and then the executive director of the prominent National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, now the National LGBTQ Task Force, took the unprecedented and heroic act of standing up and holding a sign, “Talk Is Cheap. AIDS Funding Is Not.”
Bush, in the end, bowed to the same extremists Reagan did when it came to AIDS and LGBTQ rights. As The Washington Post noted, Bush allowed evangelicals to mature as a movement within the GOP after Reagan brought them in, rather than pushing back.
Bush did sign the Americans With Disabilities Act, which protected people with disabilities against discrimination, including people with HIV. And he signed 1990′s Ryan White Care Act — after it passed overwhelmingly in Congress — which federally funded treatment for AIDS for people with little resources. But it took years of work by the indefatigable Democrats Sen. Edward Kennedy and Rep. Henry Waxman, and was too little, too late. By that point, nearly 10 years into the epidemic, 150,000 cases of people with HIV had been reported in the U.S., and 100,000 people had died due to AIDS.