Welch, W.Va. Police Chief Robert K. Bowman
You know, it seems like every time a local community wants to pass a human rights ordinance that includes LGBT people or a state wants to include sexual orientation and gender identity in its anti-discrimination statutes, folks opposed to the idea demand the same thing over and over: “prove it.”
“Let us see the bodies,” they say. To them, anti-LGBT discrimination is not a problem. They don’t experience it, thus it doesn’t exist.
Of course, that would be like a man opposing cervical cancer research because he has never had any problems with his cervix. Such a claim would be derided by most thinking people as sexist and ignorant.
Claims against the need for anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people, however, are considered reasonable and prudent.
I remember when the fight over the Royal Oak human rights ordinance was going on, a resident stood up at the City Council meeting and announced that he had many gay friends, but he was still against the ordinance because we didn’t need it and he didn’t agree with it.
Which reminds me of some white people I know who believe they’re not racist just because they don’t use the “N” word. Never mind that they wouldn’t want to live next to or go to school with black people. Sure they keep moving further and further from Detroit, but they still support the city. Hey, they go to Comerica Park a couple times a year.
Sadly, it seems to take a particularly egregious example of discrimination before naysayers are satisfied – and even then, some will never be convinced.
Such an example comes courtesy of Chief of Police Robert K. Bowman of Welch, West Virginia. On March 2, the ACLU filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against Bowman for preventing the administration of CPR on Claude Green, a gay man in the midst of a heart attack. Bowman is accused, literally, of physically preventing Green’s friend from administering CPR. Why? Because all gays have HIV and you can catch it from saliva.
Duh. Everybody knows that. Just ask Bill Frist.
Of course, the very idea that all gays have HIV/AIDS is totally wrong, not to mention extremely homophobic. But nobody thinks like that anymore, do they?
Uh, Bowman apparently does.
“Bowman’s actions were a frightening abuse of power,” said Rose Saxe, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s AIDS Project. “It’s hard to say what was more shameful: that Chief Bowman assumed Claude Green was HIV positive solely because he was gay, or that Bowman was so ignorant about HIV that he felt you couldn’t safely perform CPR on an HIV positive person.”
The thing is, Green didn’t even have HIV. And now Green is dead. He was 43.
“I’m heartbroken that I have lost my son over such ignorance and bigotry,” said Helen Green, Claude’s mother. “I can’t understand how someone who is supposed to protect the people of Welch could physically block another human from saving my son’s life. It’s always difficult for a mother to lose a child, but to have lost my son so needlessly will be with me for the rest of my life.”
So, when anti-gay folks want to see bodies I ask, “How many does it take?”