Forrester falsifies medical credentials

American College of Preventive Medicine distances itself from anti-gay N.C. lawmaker

by Matt Comer  Editor  editor@goqnotes.com
Published: September 29, 2011 in News

Originally published: Sept. 29, 2011, 12:31 p.m.
Last updated: Sept. 30, 2011, 8:11 a.m.

Update:

Forrester: ‘Homosexuals out to discredit me.’ Certificate confirms only past affiliation with group lawmaker lists as current on campaign résumé, other materials. Read more: goqnotes.com/12633/

CHARLOTTE — Gaston County state Sen. James Forrester (R), lead sponsor of the anti-LGBT constitutional amendment placed on the ballot for May 2012, has been accused of falsifying some of his medical credentials.

In an open letter posted at Pam’s House Blend this morning, contributor Scott Rose details efforts he made to reach out to the American College of Preventive Medicine and their response. Forrester has claimed he is a fellow of the medical association. Officials at the group say he has never been a member and never a fellow.

“The quick answer to your questions is that Dr. Forrester is not, and never has been, a member of ACPM (much less a Fellow, which is our highest designation of membership),” writes Michael A. Barry, executive director of the group. “However, this is troubling to us, too, that he’s apparently claiming to be a Fellow of ACPM, and we would like to know where Dr. Forrester is making these proclamations so that we can approach him and demand that he cease falsely using ACPM credentials in his campaign or wherever else he’s using it.  If you can point us to some places where he’s using those credentials, we’d be most appreciative.”

Rose pointed the group in the direction of a Gaston County Republican Party web page containing Forrester’s bio in which the supposed credential was listed. Click here to see a screenshot of the page. The bio page is still available online and still includes the false information. The false information also appears on Forrester’s campaign website (screenshot). [Ed. Note -- This story mistakenly claimed the original web page had been taken offline. This is not true. We regret the error.]

ACPM Executive Director Michael Barry confirmed to qnotes that he had exchanged emails with Rose. He also confirmed that Forrester is not a member of and has not been made a fellow with his organization. Forrester, Barry said, is board certified in preventative medicine.

“To be a fellow of the society, you have to be a member for a certain amount of time and have contributed to the organization,” Barry said. “Some just think they are fellows just by virtue of being certified.”

Barry said he has spoken to some of Forrester’s family members who claim the state senator has a board certification form.

Forrester’s falsifications might also extend into other claims on his résumé. He claims he is an associate fellow of the Aerospace Medical Association, but WRAL’s Laura Leslie reports that Forrester’s name does not appear on a list of current associate fellows provided by the group.

Equality North Carolina Interim Executive Director Alex Miller spoke out on Thursday after news broke on Forrester’s false claims.

“I am disappointed, but not surprised, that Sen. Forrester would misrepresent his medical qualifications as he and other sponsors of this harmful amendment have so consistently misrepresented the harms it represents for our state,” Miller said in a statement.  “The truth of the matter is that every major public health organization in this country, including the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly oppose amendments like this because of the harms they pose to individuals, families and children, regardless of sexual orientation.”

Openly gay Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt took it a step further, calling for Forrester to resign first via Twitter and later in a statement to Equality North Carolina.

“Sen. Forrester’s falsification of his credentials is indicative of the very anti-LGBT falsehoods he’s made it his job to circulate for almost a decade,” Kleinschmidt said. “Given the egregiousness of his most recent claims about gay and lesbian people paired with the latest findings that he misrepresented his own biography, I’d say it’s clear he’s unfit for the job he was actually elected for: to represent North Carolinians with honesty, dignity and respect.”

Forrester made waves earlier this week after appearing on Sirius/XM’s “Michelangelo Signorile Show,” in which he repeatedly refused to answer simple questions about claims he made on the lifespan of gay and lesbian people. The claims had originally been made at a town hall in Gaston County. The claims were later reported without refutation or fact-checking by Gaston Gazette reporter Wade Allen.

Forrester and his wife (more here and here), a longtime representative of the North Carolina chapter of Concerned Women for America, have been ardent advocates for anti-LGBT measures in North Carolina. Forrester was a lead sponsor of the state’s statutory Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. For the past eight years, Forrester has led the push for an anti-LGBT constitutional amendment that would ban marriage, civil unions and domestic partner benefits for same-sex couples. The measure’s placement on the May 2012 ballot was approved by the legislature on Sept. 13.