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September 19, 2014

Solons Squelched at AIDS Conference

Lawmakers who today trekked over to the 2012 International AIDS Conference to talk health care were all but silenced by outspoken protesters.

Solons Squelched at AIDS Conference

(Courtesy Chris Johnson)

Washington Blade political reporter Chris Johnson had a front-row seat for the protracted shouting match that the “U.S. Congress and The Global AIDS Epidemic” panel quickly devolved into.

The trouble started shortly after Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) slid behind the dais.

That’s when the approximately 20 unrelenting activists sprang into action, interjecting their demands that language barring payments to agencies that aid sex workers — the “prostitution pledge” — be stripped from the George W. Bush-approved President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief at every turn.

Antagonistic posters were waved. Taunts were flung. Even moderator and former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist had to wait his turn to speak.

“It seemed to me the protestors were running the show. The last 10 minutes … they wouldn’t allow any talking at all,” Johnson told HOH.

“This conference does endorse freedom of expression,” an AIDS conference spokesman explained to HOH, estimating that the blow-up “wasn’t a huge distraction.”

Tell that to the shell-shocked politicians who will undoubtedly kiss the feet of the next Capitol Police officer they see.

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