KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A gay man who was arrested after he refused to leave his partner’s side at a Kansas City hospital said Friday that he was the victim of discrimination, but the hospital said he was causing a disturbance.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is looking into the allegations from Roger Gorley, who was arrested Tuesday at Research Medical Center.
Gorley said he and his partner are in a civil union and have been together for more than five years, but when he got into an argument with his partner’s brother, the hospital deferred to the brother regarding his partner’s care. Gorley, 51, was eventually led away in handcuffs and arrested on municipal charges of trespassing and disorderly conduct.
“He is my husband,” Gorley told The Associated Press in a phone interview Friday. “Anything I said or did was not looked upon. It was all on the blood brother, and that’s not right. … They overrode our union. They overrode us as a couple.”
Hospital spokeswoman Denise Charpentier said everyone in the hospital room was asked to leave because staff believed it was in the best interest of the patient. Charpentier said Gorley was removed because he was being “disruptive and belligerent.”
She also said hospital has a longstanding policy acknowledging domestic partners’ visitation rights.
“The hospital’s response followed the same policies that would apply to any individual engaged in this behavior 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,” she said in an email Friday. “This visitor created a barrier for us to care for the patient.”
The brother didn’t return a phone message seeking comment.
Brian Cook, spokesman for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said the agency is aware of Gorley’s complaints. Cook said the agency is “working to gather the facts and determine what steps to take in a speedy manner.”
“All Americans are guaranteed the right to receive hospital visitors that they designate, and there are specific protections in our rules for same-sex couples across the country,” Cook said.
According to an arrest report, Research Medical Center did not want Gorley’s partner to have visitors and contacted Kansas City police after Gorley continually refused to leave “and began to cause a disturbance by physically resisting security officers as they escorted him out of the patient’s room.”
Doug Bonney, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas and Western Missouri, said the ACLU is concerned about the case. He said federal laws largely say patients determine who stays with them in the hospital.
“The hospital should have asked the patient who he or she wants,” Bonney said. “That should be the end of it. If the person is conscious and, you know, not just completely out of it, that is the end of it. The patient decides.”
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