LaBarbera Award: CO State Sen. Dave Schultheis

Jim Burroway

February 25th, 2009

One might conclude that Colorado GOP state Senators have become jealous over all the attention being paid to the abundance of anti-gay shenanigans over in neighboring Utah, How else can we explain this two-fer in three days?

On Monday, we had some serious nuttiness from Colorado State Sen. Scott Renfroe (R-Greeley). Now just two days later, we have another state Senator from the Rocky Mountain state making an award-winning bid. Colorado State Sen. Dave Schultheis (R-Colorado Springs) thinks that having an HIV-positive baby is just punishment for its mother’s promiscuity:

“What I’m hoping is that, yes, that person may have AIDS, have it seriously as a baby and when they grow up, but the mother will begin to feel guilt as a result of that,” he said. “The family will see the negative consequences of that promiscuity and it may make a number of people over the coming years begin to realize that there are negative consequences and maybe they should adjust their behavior.”

That’s what Schultheis said to the Rocky Mountain News when asked if he really meant what he said when he spoke in opposition to a bill on Wednesday requiring all pregnant women to be tested for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. If the virus can be detected early enough in the pregnancy, the unborn baby can be treated to prevent the transfer of the virus.

Schultheis however believes that leaving babies untreated and increasing the risk twelve-fold that they will become infected is just what the doctor ordered. Speaking form the Senate floor, Schultheis said:

Colorado State Sen. Dave Schultheis (R-Colorado Springs)

Colorado State Sen. Dave Schultheis (R-Colorado Springs)

“I’m trying to think through what the role of government is here. And I am not convinced that part of the role of government should be to protect individuals from the negative consequences of their actions.

Sexual promiscuity, we know, causes a lot of problems in our state, one of which, obviously, is the contraction of HIV. And we have other programs that deal with the negative consequences – we put up part of our high schools where we allow students maybe 13 years old who put their child in a small daycare center there.

We do things continually to remove the negative consequences that take place from poor behavior and unacceptable behavior, quite frankly, and I don’t think that’s the role of this body.

As a result of that I finally came to the conclusion I would have to be a no vote on this because this stems from sexual promiscuity for the most part, and I just can’t vote on this bill and I wanted to explain to this body why I was going to be a no vote on this.

Former Republican Gov. Bill Owens stated the obvious: “It’s extremely inconsistent for any person who is pro life to oppose this effort to potentially save the life of a child.” Every other Republican in the state Senate supported the bill. But despite this latest embarrassment, Senate minority leader Josh Penry said, “It’s not my job to go around and censor people and tell them what to say.”

But there’s something else that’s not being said. It’s the reaction on learning that someone is HIV-positive: that the person is without morals and somehow deserves his or her infection. A person can have sex only once and still contract AIDS. That sexual act can be consensual — it can be the result of having sex with her legally-wedded husband who is infected — or the “sex act” could nonconsensual, whether it’s rape or molestation.

This blame-the-victim mentality so emphatically articulated by Schultheis, the assumption which springs so automatically whenever the subject of HIV and AIDS is broached, that is the very same mentality which hinders efforts to curb the epidemic — all to the detriment of mothers and their unborn children. And other sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, spouses and partners, and all the others who become infected every year.

This latest controversey came on the heels of another embarrassing outburst by a fellow Colorado State Senator. On Monday, State Sen. Scott Renfroe (R-Greeley) spoke out against a gay-rights bill comparing homosexuality to murder. This was just after reading aloud a verse from Leviticus 20:13, which mandates the death penalty “if a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman.”


February 25th, 2009

Is there some way we can get a bill passed that all state legislators must be tested for STUPIDITY?! So a baby should suffer through possibly contracting a deadly virus just to teach someone a lesson about their bad behavior? Maybe we should start throwing the children of drunk drivers under beer trucks as they pass on the highway next or maybe we could start lighting arsonists children on fire? That would make as much sense! And I love how it’s the woman’s promiscuity that is at issue, like there is only one way to contract HIV. This guy is a moron and a pig.

David C.

February 25th, 2009

I think we are seeing the unravelling of the cloak of not so secrecy that shrouded the kind of stunning ignorance and hypocrisy Schultheis and Renfroe of Colorado, along with Buttars of the Utah State Senate, all Republicans and (arch?) social conservatives, have manifested for some time.

It never ceases to amaze me just how far this kind of individual will reach to justify their behavior when it directly contradicts the values they claim to hold so dear. (How any of these people could claim to follow the teachings of Christ is beyond me, but I’ll bet they all profess to be Christians and it is from their faith that they draw their sense of morality.)

My hope is that people are waking up to the fact that these are the kinds of people they have making their laws, and how such crazy positions on important health matters are so terribly destructive and irresponsible. Perhaps that wakefulness will induce the further realization that persecution of gay people and other disfavored minorities has the potential to have serious consequences for their own freedoms and well being.

Jason D

February 25th, 2009

I tried to point this out on a certain “independent” gay forum when one of their writers said “if you get HIV via sex, it’s your own damn fault.”

I have a dear friend who contracted the virus only a few years ago from a committed partner he thought was both HIV- and monogamous. He was wrong on both counts and found out the hard way only months after the relationship ended for completely different reasons.

This is just stunning, however:
“And I am not convinced that part of the role of government should be to protect individuals from the negative consequences of their actions.”

I wonder what exactly the baby did to deserve HIV? What, so the children must suffer for their parents actions (assuming any blame can be put on the parent in the first place)?


February 25th, 2009

“all life is precious even when it results from tragic circumstances”

That’s what the vile little man has on his very own World Wide Internet thingy page.

Of course — he was referring to the evil sin of ABORTION, not the evil sin of PROMISCUITY. Those babies can just go to hell, along with their mother.

(Cowboy, you need to do something about the water they’re drinking out your way. It’s doped with acid, right???)


February 25th, 2009

I’m beginning to wonder that myself, grantdale. I am safe because I exclusively drink Mtn Dews and I assume the caffeine is enough to counteract any effects of the water here.

I think I need to take Senator Buttars out on the town and get him drunk. It would do him a world of good. He couldn’t say anything worse than what he says sober…ya think?

Paul Ginandes

February 26th, 2009

I think this story presents an extremely interesting insight into the religious conservatives’ mine. They have spent a great deal of time crafting the position for their followers that gays=AIDS. It’s what I hear every time I engage with a homophobe. They harp on it constantly. They have decided if they can’t just automatically get what they want through religious bullying, they will harness the fear and ignorance of most Americans regarding AIDS to vilify the “gays”. This pretends to have some sort of scientific basis for their opposition to gay rights. And now the flip side comes back to bite them in the ass. They cannot then turn around and admit that anyone with AIDS, whether gay or straight, or an expectant mother deserve any compassion. If AIDS equals bad, then they feel completely comfortable punishing and deriding anyone who has AIDS, even an unborn baby, since there had to be sin involved in the transmission of the disease. Blinkered fools!

Timothy (TRiG)

February 26th, 2009

“We do things continually to remove the negative consequences that take place from poor behavior and unacceptable behavior, quite frankly, and I don’t think that’s the role of this body.”

So sexual promiscuity is unacceptable behaviour? By what standard?

Can we please try to live in the real world here, folks?


L. Junius Brutus

February 26th, 2009

“I have a dear friend who contracted the virus only a few years ago from a committed partner he thought was both HIV- and monogamous. He was wrong on both counts and found out the hard way only months after the relationship ended for completely different reasons.”

I don’t want to blame the victim, but it’s well-advised to test yourself and your partner for all sorts of mayhem before you stop using condoms – if you stop at all. You can protect yourself, but you’ve got to bear the inconvenience.

As for this legislator, he’s a contemptible and sickening human being.

Mark F.

February 26th, 2009

Does anyone else have a problem with compelling/forcing/mandating that a pregnant woman have an HIV test?

L. Junius Brutus

February 26th, 2009

Mark F.,

The bill includes an opt-out. No force involved.

Alex H

February 26th, 2009

This dangerous type of thinking is what has caused the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS to flourish. It’s crazy. To blatantly blame a person for a disease, regardless of how they contracted it, is ignorance at its best.

Talk about déjà-vu. Ronald Reagan and Jesse Helms also believed that HIV/AIDS was deserved and the person’s fault, which is why the US Government took little to no action as this virus spread like wild fire in the early 80s. And then Helms fought tooth-and-nail to prevent the education and distribution of safe-sex education and condoms to public schools, basically letting Generation X’ers find out the hard way.

What does Schultheis say to people who might have contracted this from a blood transfusion?

Oh wait… if he thinks that the baby should contract HIV/AIDS to teach the mother a lesson in her evil ways, then I guess logic doesn’t really apply here. So much for the party that’s on the side of life.

Timothy Kincaid

February 26th, 2009

Alex H,

There is no reason to think that Ronald Reagan believed that HIV/AIDS was deserved.

That myth has its basis in insinuations and assertions made by a team of writers for an expose-style docudrama about the Reagans. In their made-for-television story, Ronald Reagans says that “They who live in sin shall die in sin.”

But it has been soundly refuted by those who actually knew knew Reagan and who emphatically stated that the imagined conversation did not occur and absolutely did not reflect the beliefs of the President.


February 26th, 2009

Perhaps BTB should create a new blog series similar to the Heterosexual menace. Which would entail all of these types of political soundbites regurgitated by all these fools.

Call it the Elected Official Menace or something like that.


February 26th, 2009

OK, perhaps these would fall under the existing LaBarbera Award category.

Perhaps create a special tag just for LaBarbera Award winners. Just to make it easier to locate them.

Jason D

February 27th, 2009

I don’t want to blame the victim, but it’s well-advised to test yourself and your partner for all sorts of mayhem before you stop using condoms – if you stop at all. You can protect yourself, but you’ve got to bear the inconvenience.

L. Junius, and where did I say that he wasn’t tested? You know nothing of the situation, but you seem ready to assume my friend and his partner just tossed the condoms out the window without even getting tested. You assume that the deadbeat partner was HIV+ prior to the beginning of the relationship, and that a test would’ve revealed this fact. You assume that if he was tested, and did test positive for HIV that he was honest about his test results. That’s a whole boatload of assumptions.

Or are you making the interesting assertion that a couple that has agreed to monogamy should continue using condoms and or get tested for HIV every six months for the rest of their lives, just in case?


February 27th, 2009

On the other hand, the LaBarbera Award does get awarded to non-politicians.

So, maybe we do need a category just for elected officials. Just to make them stand out from the crowd of ALL of the LaBarbera Award winners.

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