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Differing Accounts Emerge in Story of Gay Man Arrested at Patient's Bedside at Kansas City Hospital


New information is emerging in the story of a man who was arrested at the hospital for refusing to leave his sick partner's bedside. A story reported by Kansas City's WDAF yesterday quickly went viral. They said Roger Gorley was put in handcuffs after the hospital refused to recognize him as the caretaker of his sick, longtime partner Allen.

The hospital released a statement yesterday saying that Gorley was acting belligerently and "created a barrier" for them to care for the patient:

We appreciate your concern and would like to assure you that Research Medical Center puts the care of our patients as our #1 priority regardless of sexual orientation. We support all the communities we serve. We have a long history of commitment to a culture of diversity. Research Medical Center was one of the first hospitals in Kansas City to offer domestic partner benefits, which have been in place since 2005, and we have had a policy specifically acknowledging domestic partners’ visitation rights in place for years.

This was an issue of disruptive and belligerent behavior by the visitor that affected patient care. 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. This visitor created a barrier for us to care for the patient. Attempts were made to deescalate the situation. Unfortunately, we had no choice but to involve security and the Kansas City MO Police Department.

We would also like to correct the misinformation about a restraining order. There was no issue of a restraining order by the hospital.

RmcToday, WDAF has a follow-up on their story, saying that Gorley had a confrontation with the patient's brother:

Roger Gorley said he just wanted to be there for Allen, his partner of almost five years. When he arrived at the medical center on Tuesday, Allen’s brother confronted him and told him to “back off.”

Gorley said he had the power of attorney and had every right to be there. However, HCA said Gorley did not present proof of “power of attorney” during that particular visit. “‘This is my brother — I will take care of him,’ and I said ‘No, this is my husband I have taken care of him for some time,’” Gorley said.

Gorley claims a nurse wouldn’t accept him as Allen’s husband and had him escorted out by security. He was later arrested by Kansas City, Mo., police. However, HCA said the decision to ask Gorley to leave was because Gorley and Allen’s brother were fighting inside the hospital room.

“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,” said Rob Dyer of HCA. At one point, Dyer said security footage shows a nurse backing out of the room and Gorley was swearing at her, pointing his finger close to her face.

John Aravosis at Americablog spoke with Gorley's daughter. She confirms there was a dispute between Gorley and the patient's brother but says the brother "was being more disruptive and belligerent than her father, yet the hospital had her father removed", the nurse knew what was going on, and knew the relationship between Gorley and his partner.

She also says that when the police arrived the struggle to remove Gorley drew blood and the officers freaked out:

The police considered that a violation of a direct order, so they began to forcibly remove him from the room. My father held onto the rail of the gurney as well as his husbands hand with everything he had. The police responded with brut and excessive force. The office began karate chopping his wrist to get him to release the gurney. 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.

It didn’t end there. The police changed his handcuffs 4 times! They assumed because he was a gay man that he was HIV+. When they drew blood from accosting him in such a brutal manner they freaked out. 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.

Meanwhile, the federal government is looking into it:

At President Obama's direction during his first term, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued regulations mandating that hospitals that receive Medicaid or Medicare funds allow patients the right to have visitors of their choosing, regardless of sexual orientation.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which enforces the regulations through coordination with the states, is looking into the situation. CMS spokesman Brian Cook told BuzzFeed Thursday afternoon, "CMS is aware of this specific issue and we are 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 added. "We take alleged violations of federal rules around hospital visitation very seriously."

Zack Ford also has an excellent set of bullet points on what actually happened, noting:

With these details, both the hospital’s and police’s actions seem more suspect, not less. At the foundation of the story remains the fact that Roger and Allen’s relationship was treated as inferior. Because they did not have a state-recognized marriage, they were regarded as legal strangers despite even having set up the available legal protections for each other. Roger, in turn, was subjected not just to discrimination but police brutality and legal consequences. This tragic story speaks volumes about the consequences of continuing to deny same-sex couples the right to marry and how they continue to be treated as second-class citizens. Notably, not one conservative organization has mentioned this story since it broke.

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  1. He didn't have to present a POA because it would have been on file from previous visits. Why didn't his brother have to prove that they are indeed related? And if they were fighting why wasn't he arrested too?

    Posted by: Steve | Apr 12, 2013 10:17:29 AM

  2. Looks like a very bad handling of a difficult situation. The hospital chose the brother over the husband of the patient, and the police showed little competence in dealing with things. The husband obviously freaked out but, of course, the gay person is the one who is seen as being in the wrong. Very sad.

    Posted by: Jack M | Apr 12, 2013 10:17:44 AM

  3. Typical. Brother not arrested. Gay man is.

    Posted by: Gigi | Apr 12, 2013 10:18:17 AM

  4. If Gorley and his daughters account are to be believed and found factual, I think a lot of people need to be fired. The nurse and officers who obviously need to be working in another field because they have no f***ing idea what they are doing.

    Posted by: Derrick | Apr 12, 2013 10:18:53 AM

  5. I bet they wouldn't have called the police on a hysterical wife - this story just keeps getting deeper and more screwed up.

    I'm so tired of hearing about compassion from people that don't know anything about. If the hospital had any compassion they would have been in there talking his partner down - get the family out of the room, and calm everyone down. The hospital failed on so many fronts - I hope they get investigated and properly fined as well as sued.

    The police - wow - really! They are really trained to handle situations huh. Not one bit of compassion. This is just blatant police brutality. There was no reason this needed to escalate to this point - if the hospital was unwilling to calm the situation down - the police certainly had that capability before jumping to force. What harm was this man doing that he needed to be removed with such force and lack of human dignity.

    Heads should roll in so many directions with this mess.

    Posted by: HankNYC | Apr 12, 2013 10:31:35 AM

  6. I read a separate account from someone identified as the sister-in-law of the assailant/brother, who said that the assailant/brother was being extremely belligerent and aggressive toward Gorley.

    She also said that the couple had been supposed to go on a cruise the day that Allen was hospitalized, and that the brother/assailant was cursing, insulting the couple, and making homophobic comments, accusing Gorley of taking his brother on a cruise "to be f*cked by 50 men". Pure, vile homophobia.

    The nurse needs to be fired and SUED. The hospital has no defense either, and they are only offering the slipperiest of denials.

    Posted by: Stat | Apr 12, 2013 10:31:40 AM

  7. Am I the only one that thinks this is being blown WAY out of proportion. Violence erupts in a hospital, and someone was removed in the scuffle. I highly doubt the officers showed up and said "REMOVE THE GAY!"

    Posted by: AJ | Apr 12, 2013 10:32:07 AM

  8. Show me second-class citizenship.

    Posted by: jctsf | Apr 12, 2013 10:33:08 AM

  9. i cant believe I am siding with the police.....

    The police's reactions and feeling all icked out is not the issue.

    The point is that the Police were called and had a duty to deal with the situation. Gorley refused to comply. He brought his "injuries" on himself.

    We can believe that he should never have had to deal with the situation but I dont believe he handled it well.

    IMO, and from experience, I think he was not treated as badly by police as he could have been.

    Please lets not make him a martyr or poster child.

    Posted by: Homo Genius | Apr 12, 2013 10:38:45 AM

  10. @AJ, agreed. None of us were in the room, and Gorley's daughter is clearly going to put her father in the best light possible. There are plenty of times when gay people are actually discriminated against, and that may have played a small factor here, but I'm willing to bet money that it was his belligerence, not his gayness, that led to his removal.

    Posted by: Daniel | Apr 12, 2013 10:42:02 AM

  11. And of course the usual Towleroad morons come crawling out of the woodwork. By all accounts it was the brother who was belligerent. He should have been removed.

    If there was even a reason to involve security (which American hospitals seem to do all too readily), then the correct action would have been to take them to another room and sort things out. Not to arrest him.

    Posted by: Steve | Apr 12, 2013 10:44:47 AM

  12. Regardless of the cause of the fighting between Mr. Gorley and his partner's brother, it stands to reason that the hospital employee would seek to have the party removed who was screaming at her and pointing in her face. If the video evidence shows her physically backing out of the room as Gorley came at her aggressively, this does not seem unjust. I am not excusing any of the actions of the police or hospital staff, but it does not sound like Mr. Gorley is without fault here either. It appears that all involved parties could benefit from turning their focus back to Allen and his serious medical needs.

    Posted by: Indy | Apr 12, 2013 10:45:10 AM

  13. There is never an excuse for police violence. They are like pit bulls in need of euthanizing. You give some hospital cop the tiniest bit of authority and they go karate chopping and body slamming 50-something year old men, who are ALREADY under the stress of having a partner in the hospital.

    Police are DISGUSTING.

    Posted by: Civil Lib | Apr 12, 2013 10:47:39 AM

  14. Would someone identifying herself as a wife have to produce a marriage certificate and documentation of Power of Attorney to be allowed to stay by her husband's bedside?

    This is all the more galling because the couple was KNOWN to the nurse, and previously KNOWN to the hospital.

    The nurse should be identified and investigated for evidence of anti-gay bias.

    Posted by: Ratchet | Apr 12, 2013 10:55:12 AM

  15. There are always three sides to any story, one side's version, the other side's version, and what really happened. We weren't there and don't really know what all the facts are. Maybe before getting all hysterical we need to wait and watch how this plays out and deal with it accordingly. But we can be supportive of Gorely and Allen in the mean time.

    Posted by: jsb | Apr 12, 2013 10:56:47 AM

  16. Wow, I cannot believe people here are siding with the hospital and police. What "Uncle Toms". So we are to remain polite and calm even when insulted and treated shabbily. It really sounds like the hospital is trying to whitewash discrimination. This would never happen to a strait couple.

    Posted by: Tom in Long Beach | Apr 12, 2013 10:57:47 AM


    Posted by: Dan Cobb | Apr 12, 2013 11:00:08 AM

  18. I am almost NEVER one who suggests legal action, but SUE, SUE, SUE the hospital and police department. I hope the hospital loses their medicare and medicaid funding- a death sentence for a hospital these days. EQUALITY NOW! Complaints to CMS will hasten the investigation and they must investigate the hospital with every complaint, so keep the complaints coming to CMS. I'm a health care worker and know you do NOT want CMS in your hospital.

    Posted by: noteasilyoffended | Apr 12, 2013 11:00:28 AM

  19. Clearly, the hospital didn't give a rat's ass for their marriage. And the fact that they decided to remove the husband as opposed to the brother speaks volumes.

    Posted by: Dan Cobb | Apr 12, 2013 11:00:49 AM

  20. Look at it this way, if a man is admitted to the hospital and then brother enters starting a debate and argues that his brothers wife has no right to decide on his treatment and care, would the nurse handle this situation differently? Would she refuse to acknowledge their marital rights? Does the wife carry her marriage certificate with her?

    Posted by: Joe | Apr 12, 2013 11:00:52 AM

  21. Indy, you are an ass.

    Mr. Gorley, who is the HUSBAND of the patient was asked to LEAVE!! Maybe that's why he went off. I think he had every right to do so and EVERY RIGHT to berate that nurse with whatever degree of anger and hostility. He was RIGHT to be hostile to the nurse and to be angry with her.

    Posted by: Dan Cobb | Apr 12, 2013 11:02:59 AM

  22. To the gay uncle Toms taking the hospital's side... did you ever ask whether Mr. Gorley was responding to the demand that he leave his husband's side??? Ever?
    It seems that if Gorley was angry and belligerent, he would have every reason to be so (and even more!) if that were the case.
    Do you people not understand the concept of righteous indignation!?!? What a bunch of passive wallflowers you are! WIthout righteous indigination you prisses would have NOT gay civil rights...UGH! The gays supporting the hospital disgust me even more than the hospital.

    Posted by: Dan Cobb | Apr 12, 2013 11:05:25 AM

  23. This is a messy situation, as hospital scenes involving medicinal emergencies and family at odds with one another can be. The question is whether the nurse and the hospital would have handled this the same way had it been a straight couple involved, with a straight spouse in conflict with a brother. Who would they have deferred to in that situation? The brother instead of the husband/wife? I seriously doubt that, unless there were very particular circumstances that would make deferring to the spouse risky for the patient.

    After the details of this case are sorted through and, hopefully, the conflicting stories resolved, the question to the nurse and hospital must be answered: Was the spouse in this situation treated differently because he is gay and, if so, how did the cleearly unequal status of gay couples in MO contribute to this?

    If a hospital nurse denied me my right to make medical decisions for my husband I would be belligerent, too.

    Posted by: Ernie | Apr 12, 2013 11:22:01 AM

  24. This made me so angry yesterday that I looked all over the net to find the details. Pertinent aggravators are (1) the homophobic brother that ridiculed the couple's upcoming vacation as a butt- f#@k fest is a cop; The couple normally went to St. Luke's for treatment except for ECT, but this excuse for a nurse did know them--as she said, "I know about you two."

    As for the lickspittle kapos who think the hospital or cops will proceed in a correct fashion--well, you just make me sputter in contempt.

    Posted by: Akrontru | Apr 12, 2013 11:24:28 AM

  25. I happen to be a nurse, and I'm gay. I've had family members removed numerous times. I don't care who you are, what your relation. If you are disrupting care, interfering with the patient's treatment, you are gone. If you are in my face with your finger or your fist, you are gone. If you touch me, you will be arrested and I will press charges. Try defending health care worker assault in court...it's treated similarly to assault against a law enforcement officer. Family disturbances & disagreements have become a too-common occurrence at a patient's bedside. Having those close to you during hospitalizations is an important part of the healing process. However, conflict & discord causes more stress and delays that same healing process. At the end of it all, it really isn't the family member's decision. It's the patient's decision. That's one aspect of the story that hasn't been mentioned, the point of view of the patient. After all, it is HIS story and his care that is important. I've worked hospitals all over the country and I can honestly say-from deep south to large cities-at the end of the day health care workers don't really care who their patients have at the bedside. Unless you're signing consents, or making end of life decisions, as long as they make the patient happy, it's fine.
    I can see, from the nurses point of view...if things were calm, and peaceful between the patient and his brother, and then the husband comes in and all hell breaks loose, it would be perceived that the conflict comes from the person that last entered the picture. If you're the person perceived to be the troublemaker, you're going to get thrown out....legal document or not. It's not your right to be at the bedside if you are a disturbance. In this case, if it was that heated and violent, everyone should have been removed.
    It will be interesting to see how this plays out. I would love to hear from someone other than the husband and his daughter. An impartial 3rd party.
    As for the police. Most hospitals employ security teams. In these instances, they aren't allowed to touch or physically remove someone, it must be done by an actual police force, which is what it seems in this case.

    Posted by: kookie | Apr 12, 2013 11:24:58 AM

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