AIDS Speakers: ‘Join the Struggle’
NEW YORK (AP) _ An HIV-positive mother silenced a mostly celebrative Democratic convention Tuesday night with a riveting account of losing her daughter to AIDS that brought many delegates to tears.
And an AIDS-infected aide to Bill Clinton roused delegates by denouncing George Bush as a president ″who doesn’t talk about AIDS, much less do anything about it.″
″We must vote this year as if our lives depended on it,″ said Bob Hattoy, the gay Clinton aide. ″Mine does. Yours could.″
He introduced Elizabeth Glaser, who transmitted the AIDS virus to her two children. Her daughter, who died four years ago, contracted the virus through Glaser’s breast milk; her son, who is 7 and has yet to show any symptoms of the virus, contracted it in utero.
″I am here tonight because my son and I may not survive four more years of leaders who say they care - but do nothing,″ she said.
″A thousand points of light just wasn’t enough,″ she added. ″My house has been dark for too long.″
Her memories of the seventh and last year of her daughter Ariel’s life - ″she taught me to love when all I wanted to do was hate; she taught me to help others when all I wanted to do was help myself″ - brought many delegates to tears.
″I’m sorry, but I’m still choked up,″ Denise Fox of Gautier, Miss., told a reporter who asked for her reaction to the speeches. ″...They made me cry, not only for them but for all people who need help.″
″Our children are dying,″ said Cecily Ramos, a Clinton delegate from Marlboro, N.J. ″That’s what Mrs. Glaser showed us.″
Glaser’s denunciation of the Bush administration elicited cheers and cries of ″No Second Term 3/8″
″When anyone tells President Bush that the battle against AIDS is seriously under-funded, he juggles the numbers to mislead the public into thinking we’re spending twice as much as we really are,″ she said.
As Glaser left the stage, Rep. Pat Schroeder led the applause from the podium. ″If that didn’t touch your heart,″ she said, ″you don’t have one.″
Glaser, the wife of actor Paul Michael Glaser, was infected with the HIV virus 11 years ago in a blood transfusion, and has a weakened immune system.
She was preceded on the podium by Hattoy, who became the first openly gay man with AIDS to speak about the disease in such a prominent setting.
″Mr. President, you don’t see AIDS for what it is,″ he said. ″It’s a crisis in public health that demands medical experts, not moral judges.″
Clinton asked Hattoy to speak last month after the aide learned he had AIDS.
Earlier in the day, thousands of people marched to Times Square to call for a tougher fight against AIDS and better treatment of AIDS patients.