Anyone who is familiar with Gary Bauer’s anti-gay extremism will not be surprised to learn that his bigotry goes way back. Just in time for World AIDS Day, we now know that when Bauer was working in the Reagan White House, he fought hard to keep gay people off the nation’s first AIDS commission.
A June 30, 1987, memo from Bauer to President Reagan was unearthed by a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the law firm of McDermott, Will & Emory and the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C. The memo, which appears in the December 1 issue of Harper’s, makes clear that Reagan was already aware of Bauer’s opposition to appointing a “known homosexual” to the commission. Bauer may have sensed that he was losing the battle, and felt compelled to tell Reagan one more time just how strongly he felt.
Bauer’s arguments were both political and moral. He wrote that it was Reagan’s opponents who were pushing for a gay appointee, and that a gay member of the commission might become a media star who could damage the commission’s work. And there’s this:
3. Millions of Americans try to raise their children to believe that homosexuality is immoral. In many states homosexual practices are illegal, including sodomy. For you to appoint a known homosexual to a Presidential Commission will give homosexuality a stamp of acceptability. It will drive a wedge between us and many of our socially conservative supporters.
4. While it is true that homosexuals have been major victims of AIDS, they are also responsible for its spread. Recent students show the average gay man with AIDS has had over 150 different sexual partners in the previous 12 months.
Bauer proposed instead appointing a relative of someone with AIDS, or a caregiver, or as a last resort, a “reformed” homosexual: “that is, someone not currently living a gay life style. We have identified several individuals that meet that criteria.”
Bauer’s role as an anti-gay zealot in the Reagan White House was also revealed in “Faith in the Halls of Power: How Evangelicals Joined the American Elite” by D. Michael Lindsay. As Kyle reported back in 2010, the book says Bauer interfered with the efforts of Surgeon General C. Everett Koop when he was tasked with drafting a report on AIDS for President Reagan:
[In 1986] President Reagan asked the surgeon general to prepare a report on AIDS as the United States confirmed its ten-thousandth case. Leaders of the evangelical movement did not want Koop to write the report, nor did senior White House staffers who shared Koop’s evangelical convictions. As Dr. Koop related to me, “Gary Bauer [Reagan’s chief advisor on domestic policy] … was my nemesis in Washington because he kept me from the president. He kept me from the cabinet and he set up a wall of enmity between me and most of the people that surrounded Reagan because he believed that anybody who had AIDS ought to die with it. That was God’s punishment for them.”