Families of Hospitalized Man & Arrested Partner Come Forward
The families of two men, one of whom was turned out of his partner’s hospital room, in clear violation of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services visitation rules, and who was later arrested for clashing with the staff over his power of attorney for his sick partner, have gone public with their own versions of the night in question.
The hospitalized man’s partner’s daughter is joining her voice to her father’s (the two have a civil union, not recognized in Missouri). She agrees that that the hospital discriminated against him and that the police used excessive force.
It all started last week, when Roger Gorley was arrested after he refused to leave the bedside of his partner, Allen Mansell, at Research Medical Center in Kansas City, Mo. The story made national headlines for pointing up the discrimination that still exists even after President Barak Obama mandated that any hospital receiving federal reimbursements (in effect, all of them) had to give the same status to such relationships as to heterosexual partners.
Gorley’s daughter, Amanda Brown, has stepped forward to buttress says the Kansas City police did not handle the situation properly and that the hospital discriminated against her father because he is gay.
In Brown’s blog, We Are Atheism, she writes about her father and Mansell, who have been in a civil union for five years, as a loving couple completely accepted by her and other family members. Gorley, she noted, has legal Power of Attorney to make medical decisions for his partner.
Brown describes the incident that led to Gorley’s arrest. In her retelling, Mansell’s younger brother, Lee Mansell, asked her father to leave the hospital room. The two men started to argue until a nurse intervened and also told Gorley he had to leave.
When he refused, the nurse called security to remove him, even though Allen Mansell was begging to let him stay. After the incident erupted in the national press, the Research Medical Center released a statement on its Facebook page, in which hospital officials say the fight itself was the sole cause of Gorley’s removal.
"When the nurse went in to ask them to please quiet down and please stop this and they continued, and every time they stepped out it would get escalated. So she stepped back in and asked them to remove themselves for the sake of the patient at the moment," Rob Dyer of Hospital Corporation of America, parent company of Research Medical Center, told Kansas City, Mo., Fox affiliate WDAF. "He [Gorley] and the patient’s brother were fighting in the patient’s room very loudly, very crassly, inappropriate language."
In Brown’s log, however, the Kansas City Police "responded with [brute] and excessive force." She told the New Civil Rights Movement website that her father suffered cuts on his ring finger, a swollen wrist, his back was injured, and he now needs to have his hearing aids repaired.
Brown has set up a legal defense fund on GoFundMe.com. As of this writing, more than $3,000 has been collected toward a $5,000 goal. In her blog, Brown adds that she is working with the American Civil Liberties Union.
Gorley told Kansas City NBC affiliate KSHB that hospital security hit him on his wrist because he was holding on to his partner’s bed. "They kept hitting and kept hitting and kept hitting," he said.
For his part, Lee Mansell told KSHB that since the incident made headlines, he’s come under fire for his part in the incident. "I’ve been called everything from a homophobe to things you can’t even say on TV," he said. "I’ve had physical threats since someone was nice enough to post my email address online."
In Lee’s version, he admits that the conversation he had with Gorley "got a little heated. The nurse had come in the first time and said ’You two need to leave the room,’" he continued, "so we kind of quieted down for a minute. Roger wanted me to leave the room, and I told him, ’Well, no, you need to leave the room’ and the nurses came in the second time and said, ’You both need to leave the room.’"
In Lee Mansell’s eyes, the public is blowing the incident out of proportion. He said he only wants the best for his older brother. He added that he is not anti-gay.
"I was kind of scared for him, and I was upset for Allen," Lee Mansell said. "I love Roger like I do my brother. It’s heart-wrenching for me to see my brother’s husband being taken away."
When WDAF wrote an update of the incident, however, some of Lee’s own kin expressed in the comments section opinions that differed markedly from Lee’s version of how he sees the relationship. Angela Mansell, Allen Mansell’s sister-in-law (she is married to his younger brother Joe), wrote that the hospital did not listen to Allen, who said he wanted Gorley in the room with him.
"Roger is Allen’s husband who was kicked out of the hospital because of Lee’s actions," she wrote. "Lee is the one who called the police and paramedics and had Allen forcibly removed from his and Roger’s home and put in the hospital. Joe, my husband, fully supports Allen and Roger and is now, along with Allen, estranged from Lee as a result of Lee’s interference with Allen and Roger’s relationship. I hope this clears things up."
Maybe, but she also defended Lee Mansell to an extent. When asking people not to send Lee hate mail, she added, "He is a hothead and would respond accordingly if he even responds at all. Even though I am disappointed in Lee’s behavior, I don’t want a bunch of hate mail directed at him. Regardless of how ashamed I am of him at this point, unfortunately he is still a member of my family."
How all of this plays out remains to be seen. What is apparent is that one family’s drama has writ large the problems that remain when men like Gorley and Mansell can’t formally legalize their relationship.
A commentary on Yahoo Voices by Isa-Lee Wolf sums up the opinion of many online.
"For anyone still saying they don’t understand why gay people ’have to’ get married, why something else won’t suffice, why ’civil union’ isn’t good enough, I offer the utterly heartbreaking story of Roger Gorley and his partner Allen," she writes.
"Imagine yourself in this situation: The person you love is lying in a hospital bed, in a position where someone else may be required to make medical decisions, and the hospital is trying to make you leave," Wolf adds.
In a similar case, in 2011, officials at a hospital outside of Nashville, Tenn., were forced to apologize after they refused a lesbian the right to visit her partner. The CEO of the hospital blamed the incident on "human error" and said that as soon as he heard about it, he held a staff meeting, where "we immediately made the change in terms of making sure that our policy was very clear."