By Sunnivie Brydum
Originally published on Advocate.com April 12 2013 4:06 PM ET
The story of a gay man in Missouri who was arrested Tuesday after he refused to leave his husband's hospital bedside has drawn national attention, and parties on both sides of the incident are elaborating on what they believe took place on Tuesday.
Here's what is not in dispute:
Roger Gorley and his husband, Allen Mansell, have been in a civil union for five years and have legal power of attorney to make medical decisions for one another, Gorley explained to Fox 4 News on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Mansell was admitted to Research Medical Center in Kansas City, Mo., for reasons related to his ongoing battle with clinical depression. Mansell was reportedly fading in and out of consciousness. Mansell's brother, Lee, was at the hospital and got into an argument with Gorley. The argument escalated, and Gorley was forcibly removed from his husband's hospital room, arrested, and charged with disorderly conduct and trespassing.
Gorley contends that the nurse on duty refused to recognize his legal power of attorney, which grants him the right to make medical decisions on behalf of his husband.
"I was not recognized as the being the husband," Gorley told Fox 4 on Wednesday. "I wasn't recognized as being the partner."
Research Medical Center has issued several statements, each claiming that Gorley's behavior was inappropriate and interfering with his husband's care. The hospital has rejected allegations that Gorley's arrest was motivated by antigay bias, saying, "this was an issue of disruptive and belligerent behavior by the visitor that affected patient care. The hospital's response followed the same polices that would apply to any individual engaged in a patient care setting and was not in any way related to the patient's or the visitor's sexual orientation or marital status."
But Gorley's adult daughter, who says she was at the hospital with her father and Mansell, says the hospital's allegations that Gorley was belligerent are "absolute and utter bullshit."
In a blog post published on We Are Atheism, Gorley's daughter Amber Brown, 26, details a long and tense relationship between the gay couple and Mansell's family, who reportedly do not approve of their relationship.
"Allen made sure over the past 20 years to not involve his family in his medical care," wrote Brown. "None of them are on his HIPAA nor are any of them supposed to have any say over what happens to him medically. [Mansell and Gorley] have each been granted power of attorney over each other for medical decisions. This information is not only on file with Research Medical Center, they are well-known at the hospital and throughout the city as a proud gay couple. No one has ever had a problem until Tuesday 4/9/2013." (Emphases are Brown's.)
Brown alleges that Mansell's brother and sister arrived unexpectedly at Mansell's home on Tuesday, with paramedics in tow, and took Mansell to Research Medical Center against his will. Brown further notes that while Mansell had previously visited Research Medical Center for electroshock therapy treatments to combat his debilitating depression, the Kansas City hospital was not Mansell's regular medical provider.
When Gorley arrived at Research Medical Center, Brown says her father immediately raced to his husband's side, holding his hand and offering him reassurance. Brown says Mansell's brother offered similar assurances, but added that he would not allow Gorley to make medical decisions for his husband.
"That ignited the fire in my father that had been swelling up inside of him," writes Brown. "He said, 'No you won’t! This is my husband. I know what he wants and needs. You are never around. You need to leave.'"
That's when the nurse on staff asked Gorley to leave the room, says Brown. Indeed, a spokesperson for the hospital's parent company, Hospital Corporation of America, acknowledged that the nurse asked both men to leave.
"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 HCA told Fox 4 News Thursday. Dyer also told Fox 4 that Gorley did not present a copy of his power of attorney agreement during Tuesday's particular visit.
When Gorley refused to leave his husband's side, hospital staff called security, who eventually contacted Kansas City Police. When police ordered Gorley to leave the room, Gorley refused, and that's when police exerted excessive force to physically remove Gorley, who was clinging to the sidebar of his husband's gurney, says his daughter.
"The office[r] began karate chopping his wrist to get him to release the gurney," writes Brown. "Then they wrestled him to the ground forcefully enough to knock his glasses off of his face, his hearing aids out of his ears, and nearly break his wrist while they took him down. To handcuff him they pushed a knee into his back and wrenched his wrists around."
Brown contends that the arresting officers used four different sets of handcuffs to restrain Gorley, and alleges that one officer assumed that Gorley had HIV because he is a gay man.
"When [the officers] drew blood from accosting him in such a brutal manner they freaked out," writes Brown. "One of the arresting officers was so offended by my father’s presence that he would not touch him with his bare hands. He wore gloves the entire time, and to make matters even more humiliating he didn’t want his handcuffs back. He grabbed them with gloves on, then another layer of gloves pinched between his index finger and thumb as he handed them off to another officer. The officer taking the handcuffs looked at him like he was crazy and just grabbed the handcuffs with no issue."
Brown says it took three hours for police to process her father and for her to bail him out of jail. Gorley was issued a $600 fine for disorderly conduct and trespassing, and Brown says the hospital issued a restraining order against Gorley.
But Research Medical Center claims it never issued a restraining order against Gorley, and said he is free to visit his partner at his leisure. Kansas City's Fox 4 News obtained a police report detailing Gorley's arrest, but could not find a record of a restraining order against the man.
On Thursday evening, Brown posted an update to her blog saying that the hospital's statements claiming they had not issued a restraining order was news to her father, and that in light of the new information, Gorley would attempt to visit his partner that evening. John Avarosis at AmericaBlog confirms that Gorley was able to visit Mansell Thursday night, but only after Gorley "showed up and threw a fit."