Marc Short, the new, incoming Chief of Staff for Vice President Mike Pence previously disparaged people living with HIV and AIDS.
The Daily Beast first reported on the column in which he wrote about the virus. Short wrote the piece in the 1990s for The Spectator, a conservative student newspaper, which he co-founded in 1989 as an undergraduate at Washington & Lee University.
In the column, Short described HIV as a virus largely caused by same-sex activity.
He criticized ‘the propaganda campaign ignited by gay activists and carelessly perpetuated by journalists whose intent is to scare all heterosexuals into believing they are prime targets for contraction of the disease’.
He further wrote: ‘The campaign’s purpose is both to lobby Congress for more federal funding of AIDS research and to destigmatize the perverted lifestyles homosexuals pursue.’
In 1991, professional basketball player Magic Johnson publicly announced he was HIV positive.
Short addressed this in his column, writing that AIDS activists ‘celebrated’ the news. He said this was because it ‘shocked the world into believing this nonsense that everyone is prone to infection’.
He apologized for the column
Prior to the column, Washington & Lee alumnus Edwin Wright, who was gay, spoke to the university’s main newspaper about being HIV positive.
Short made comments that he held ‘sympathy’ for Wright. He added, however, ‘that does not mean that we glorify homosexuals’ repugnant practices of frequent anal intercourse nor should we consider them brave for coming out of the closet’.
In his column, he referenced Wright, writing: ‘Homosexuals who pursue unhealthy lifestyles and engage in high risk sexual behavior, specifically anal intercourse, may very well end up like Mr. Wright.’
Short released a statement to The Daily Beast on Tuesday (26 February) apologizing for his words.
‘I regret using language as an undergraduate college student that was not reflective of the respect I try to show others today,’ he said.
‘We have all learned a lot about AIDS over the past 30 years and my heart goes out to all the victims of this terrible disease.’
Pence has a known and staunch anti-LGBTI record.
He has opposed numerous actions for LGBTI equality, including the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
In 2006, he supported a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman. At the time, he said ‘societal collapse was always brought about following an advent of the deterioration of marriage and family’.
He also said prohibiting LGBTI people from marrying was ‘God’s idea’.
In 2015, months before marriage equality in the US, Pence signed into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in Indiana. He was the state’s governor at the time.
This law allows individuals and companies the right to use religious freedom as a defense.
An amendment was later added to protect LGBTI people.
Last year, the Human Rights Campaign published an extensive report about Pence and the threatest he poses to equality.
Short assumes his tenure as Pence’s Chief of Staff in March.