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30 Oct 2009 12:38 pm

Free At Last

The president just announced that as of Monday, the ban on HIV-positive visitors, tourists and immigrants will formally come to an end. There are 60 days before the new rule comes into effect. But after that, people with HIV will be treated in exactly the same way as any other person with a serious illness - according to science, not politics, and following the logic of reason, not fear.

The ban has been in existence for 22 years, pioneered by Jesse Helms, resisted by the first Bush, signed into law by Bill Clinton, legislatively repealed by George W. Bush and now administratively ended by Barack Obama. In an age when bipartisanship is out of fashion, the repeal was led by Gordon Smith and John Kerry, with backing from many Republicans and Democrats. The work of staffers - Rob Epplin and Alex Nunez, in particular - was invaluable. The support of Immigration Equality was vital. The lobbying of HRC was an important late development. The readers of the Dish also helped raise awareness of this and emailed Congress to move it forward. It means a huge amount to many people unknown to you and me but struggling in ways you and I cannot truly imagine. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

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.

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