The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has been accused by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation of homophobia for its slow public response to the meningitis outbreak among gay men. But when it comes to indisputable homophobia in public health one only has to look a few miles northeast to Pasadena.
Dr. Eric Walsh, that city’s public health director, has been recorded preaching sermons criticizing society’s growing acceptance of gay and lesbian people. Walsh even attacked the American Psychiatric Association’s decision in 1973 to declassify homosexuality as a mental illness, saying those who supported it were “raised up by the (devil).”
In a sermon focused on the Bible’s story of Sodom and Gomorrah, Walsh also attacked schools for their tolerance of LGBT students.
“In our public school system they began to teach moral relativism,” he was recorded as saying. “They began to teach that there really is no absolute right or wrong. It’s more a matter of what you think or what you accept. And (according to that doctrine) if two adults agree to do something, it’s not wrong because they are both consenting adults. That is doctrine from the pits of hell. What makes something right is not based on man, it is based on God.”
Pasadena is one of the few California cities with its own public health department. Most, including West Hollywood, are served by a county health department. It is a town lauded by the Advocate, a national gay magazine, for its gay community. “This beautiful but sleepy city adjunct to Los Angeles (is) a kind of bedroom community for gays who like to garden,” the Advocate said in its ranking, noting that the city also had two gay elected city officials.
Walsh, a Seventh-day Adventist, also has spoken out against the theory of evolution, accusing those who teach it of doing “the devil’s handiwork.”
“I want you to understand that evolution is a religion created by Satan,” he has said.
It’s not just gay rights advocates and supporters of the scientific theory of evolution who Walsh opposes. He also has attacked the Walt Disney Co., calling it a “dark empire,” and he has railed against the Harry Potter books and movies, saying they are witchcraft.
Oddly, it’s Walsh who the Pasadena City College has chosen as a commencement speaker to replace Dustin Lance Black, the Oscar-winning gay screenwriter and producer who initially was asked to address the graduating class. PCC rescinded its invitation to Black after learning about the existence of a video shot in 2009 showing him having sex with his then boyfriend.
The San Gabriel Valley Tribune has called for Walsh’s resignation as public health chief.