The NYT on Bush's "Prejudiced" Surgeon General Nominee

Three times the NYT says Bush's nominee for Surgeon General considered homosexual sex "unnatural and unhealthy" in a 1991 paper excoriated by gay rights groups - even though the words don't appear in the less-than-scary paper itself.

The Times' editorial page has gone gunning for James Holsinger, Bush's nominee to become Surgeon General, citing "disturbing indiciations that he is prejudiced against homosexuals." Yesterdayhe appeared before the Senate to testify and received withering criticism from Democrats, as outlined on Friday by reporter Gardiner Harris.

"Gay rights advocates have denounced Dr. Holsinger for a 1991 paper he wrote for a church committee that characterized homosexual sex as unnatural and unhealthy. Under pointed questioning on Thursday, Dr. Holsinger said the 1991 paper did not represent his current views, was not intended to be published and was not "an example of my scientific work."

A sidebar by Harris (apparently not online), "Criticism Over 1991 Report for Methodist Church on Gay Sex." was devoted solely to Holsinger's 1991 paper, which has become a casus belli for gay rights groups (and the Times' editorial page) to oppose the nomination.

"President Bush's nominee to become surgeon general has been criticized by gay rights groups for writing a report in 1991 for the Methodist Church that characterized gay sex as unnatural and unhealthy."

For the record, Holsinger's actual paper doesn't contain the words "unnatural and unhealthy," though other mainstream media outlets and activists on both left and right have asserted that it does.

"Partial minutes of the church committee that called for the report show that many of the criticisms leveled at the report in recent weeks were echoed by committee members at the time.

"The committee had been charged by the United Methodist Church to study homosexuality to inform debates about laws governing same-sex unions and other issues. In its discussion, some committee members at the time described the report by the nominee, Dr. James W. Holsinger Jr., as biased, 'ideologically slanted,' and 'blaming the victim,' according to meeting minutes. Sections of the minutes were obtained by The New York Times.

"One member said, according to the minutes, that the committee had asked Dr. Holsinger 'to write on the biology of homosexuality and the paper is about health problems of male homosexual practices.''

Warning: Some fairly clinical and graphic text follows.

"Dr. Holsinger's eight-page report explained why, in his view, homosexual sex was unnatural and unhealthy.

"'The anus and rectum, unlike the vagina, contain no natural lubricating function,' the report states. 'Thus insertion of unlubricated objects or inadequate dilation of the anus before insertion of a large object can result in tissue laceration.''

"Gay men frequently suffer injuries from anal sex, the report stated, while heterosexual women who engage in anal sex are rarely injured."

'''In addition to infections and trauma, tumors are a definite risk for homosexual men,' the report stated.

"In a news release, the National Coalition For Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Health said that it opposed Dr. Holsinger's nomination ''based on his writings that misrepresent and manipulate medical research to the detriment of'' its members."

Neither story bothered to give the title of Holsinger's paper, which is "Pathophysiology of Male Homsexuality" and can be read here, if you'd like to see if it's as scary as the Times makes it out to be. Although probably too disjointed to pass peer review, the study sticks to science when outlining the health effects of gay sex.

Here's an excerpt from Holsinger's paper, quoting extensively from a report by Jette Christopherson that appeared in the Danish Medical Bulletin:

"A study of sexually transmitted diseases in heterosexuals, bisexuals and homosexuals reported from Copenhagen in 1988 (Christopherson), demonstrated that the profile of diseases was strongly correlated to sexual lifestyle.

"Amoebiasis and giardiasis were found respectively in 31.9% and 13'.8% of homosexuals. None of the heterosexuals had pathologic protozoa....Among males with homosexual partners, 14% had rectal infections. Gonococcal and chlamydia1 infections were equally frequent. Three percent had symptomatic anorectal herpes simplex infection and 11% anal warts...Urethral gonorrhea and/or Chlamydia infections were diagnosed in 39% of heterosexuals compared to only 10% of homosexuals and bisexuals. Twelve percent of the homosexuals had untreated early syphilis, whereas syphilis was exceptional among heterosexuals. The total burden of infections expressed as the actual number of infections was largest among homosexuals, 40.4%, 22.4%, and 5.3% having one, two, and three infections respectively."

In other words, the Times' (and gay rights groups') quarrel would seem to be with the Danish Medical Bulletin study cited by Holsinger, not the man himself.