GOP lawmakers cringe at
colleagues' words on sexuality
Promiscuity cited by Schultheis in vote against HIV testing
By Lynn Bartels, Rocky Mountain News (Contact)
Published February 25, 2009 at 1:05 p.m.
Republican legislator's remarks about sexuality sparked a bitter
volley at the state Capitol on Wednesday, the second time in
three days such comments have created controversy.
Although unwilling to publicly discuss the issue, some
Republicans privately expressed dismay, fearing the comments may
hurt their party's image.
Sen. Dave Schultheis, of Colorado Springs, on Wednesday opposed
a bill requiring pregnant women to be tested for HIV so that if
they are infected their babies can be treated to prevent the
"This stems from sexual promiscuity for the most part, and I
just can't go there," he said.
"We do things continually to remove the consequences of poor
behavior, unacceptable behavior, quite frankly. I'm not
convinced that part of the role of government should be to
protect individuals from the negative consequences of their
Two days earlier, Sen. Scott Renfroe, of Greeley, used biblical
references in linking murder and homosexuality during debate on
a bill to extend health benefits to the partners of gay and
lesbian state workers.
The back-to-back comments were too much for Sen. Jennifer Veiga,
"Where is the Republican leadership on all this?" she asked.
Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry responded he is not going to
muzzle his caucus, although he has reminded his colleagues "we
should never lose sight of the humanity of people on the other
side of an issue."
"People are entitled to their opinions," the Grand Junction
Republican said. "It's not my job to go around and censor people
and tell them what to say."
He added that he thought Democrats were trying to "gin up the
outrage machine" and said their hands aren't clean when it comes
to questionable comments.
But the Capitol was abuzz Wednesday about Schultheis' remarks on
a bill that had the support of every other Senate Republican,
including Penry, who signed on as a co-sponsor.
Rep. Marsha Looper, of Calhan, was one of the few Republicans
willing to publicly take her party members to task.
"What are they doing over there?" she asked, referring to the
Senate. "I find their comments inappropriate and offensive, and
I question their motives."
Schultheis later Wednesday accused Democrats of "speaking out of
two sides of their mouths."
"They go to extreme lengths to try to protect the fetus," he
said. "On the other hand they're willing to pass laws that allow
abortions or will not reduce abortions."
Former Gov. Bill Owens said he was puzzled over Schultheis' "no"
"It's extremely inconsistent for any person who is pro-life to
oppose this effort to potentially save the life of a child," he
Owens said the GOP tried to run a similar bill in the 1990s but
was thwarted by the AIDS lobby, which feared profiling. He said
he is thrilled it might become law.
Schultheis' remarks came during debate on Senate Bill 179, which
makes several changes to state law concerning communicable
diseases, including the requirement of the HIV test. Pregnant
women can opt out, which goes in their medical records.
The sponsor, Sen. Lois Tochtrop, D-Thornton, pointed out that
not everyone who is HIV-positive got the virus through sexual
Tochtrop said the risk of transferring the virus from mother to
baby during pregnancy or delivery can be reduced from 25 percent
to 2 percent with medication and preventive care.
Words and controversy
Two Senate Republicans are under fire for their comments about
sexuality during debates on two separate bills.
SEN. DAVE SCHULTHEIS, R-Colorado Springs, on Wednesday voted
against Senate Bill 179, which requires pregnant women to
undergo HIV testing to ensure steps can be taken to reduce
transferring the disease to the baby if the mother is infected.
* What he said during the debate: "This stems from sexual
promiscuity for the most part and I just can't go there. We do
things continually to remove the consequences of poor behavior,
unacceptable behavior, quite frankly. I'm not convinced that
part of the role of government should be to protect individuals
from the negative consequences of their actions."
* What he said afterward: "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. 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. We can't keep
people from being raped. We can't keep people from shooting each
other. We can't keep people from jumping off bridges. People
drink and drive, and they crash and kill people. Poor behavior
has its consequences."
SEN. SCOTT RENFROE, R-Greeley, on Monday opposed Senate Bill 88,
which extends health care benefits to the partners of gay and
lesbian state employees.
* What he said during the debate: "Leviticus 18:22 says, 'You
shall not lie with a man as one lies with a female. It is an
abomination.' Leviticus 20:13 says, 'If there is a man who lies
with a male as though to lie with a woman, both of them have
committed a detestable act, and they shall surely be put to
death. ... ' We are taking sins and making them to be legally
OK, and that is wrong. ... And I'm not saying that this is the
only sin that's out there. Obviously, we have sin, we have
murder, we have all sorts of sin. We have adultery ... and we
would never think to make murder legal."
* What he said Wednesday: "I don't mean to be hateful. I don't
think I'm hateful. People have accused me of that. I'm just
voicing my opinions on what I believe and trying to speak what I
think is the truth. Our First Amendment allows freedom of speech
and I should be allowed to say what I want on any issue. I
wasn't probably eloquent enough in saying that all people sin
and there are many different sins and they are all the same in
the eyes of God. But to make laws to make sins legal is where I
think it crosses the line, and we shouldn't go there. That's the
destruction of our society."