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Posts for February, 2009

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.”