'The Death Sentence of AIDS:' Newly minted Wyoming lawmaker stands by controversial book

2014-03-16T07:34:00Z 'The Death Sentence of AIDS:' Newly minted Wyoming lawmaker stands by controversial bookBy LAURA HANCOCK Casper Star-Tribune The Billings Gazette
March 16, 2014 7:34 am  • 

CASPER, Wyo. — Wyoming’s newest legislator stands by a book he wrote nearly 30 years ago that claims many gay people demand the right to have sex with children and people with AIDS should be quarantined if they continue having sex.

The book is called “The Death Sentence of AIDS: Vital Information For You and Your Family’s Health and Safety.” It was self-published by T.R. Mader, who at the Wyoming Legislature goes by the name Rep. Troy Mader, R-Gillette.

The 1987 book is out of print. The Casper Star-Tribune recently obtained one of the fewer than two dozen copies available at libraries across the country.

Mader was sworn into the Legislature on the second day of the 2014 session to represent House District 52, the northern half of Campbell County, after the Jan. 28 death of Republican Rep. Sue Wallis, who previously represented the area.

Mader said in an interview with the Star-Tribune that the research featured in the book may be a little outdated, since it was written when HIV and AIDS were still relatively new to the medical community. But he still maintains gays are more likely to be promiscuous than heterosexuals, contributing to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

“If you want to participate in that particular lifestyle, that’s your choice,” he said during a telephone interview. “But I reserve the right to say, ‘Hey, there’s risk involved.’”

Jeran Artery, chairman of the pro-LGBT organization Wyoming Equality, saw excerpts of Mader’s book on the Internet.

“To have someone like Sue Wallis, and you know, I didn’t always agree with Sue on everything, but she was a fantastic ally to the gay community,” Artery said. “To go from someone so friendly and supportive to someone who has so much hatred in their heart was disturbing to me.”

The book is mostly made up of quotes that Mader compiled from sources ranging from Newsweek to “What Homosexuals Do (It’s More than Disgusting),” a publication by Paul Cameron, who is described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-gay propagandist. The law center is an organization that investigates what it describes as acts of hate.

Mader wrote a summary at the end of each chapter of “The Death Sentence of AIDS” and a three-page conclusion at the end of his book, where he argues the spread of AIDS could be stopped by changing “America’s promiscuous lifestyles.”

“At one time, this nation was moral and great,” he wrote. “Now it is immoral and sick. We have reaped what we have sown, and we are dying!”

Mader, 58, published the book when he was in his early 30s. He now ranches in an area north of Gillette, has recorded a CD of country rock and gospel music and is research director of the Abundant Wildlife Society of North America, which criticizes the Endangered Species Act and details wolf and mountain lion attacks on humans.

Promiscuity

Mader’s book states many gays are promiscuous, citing a 1984 article from the conservative magazine American Spectator that claimed the average gay person had 1,000 to 1,600 partners in a lifetime.

“One activist has said that 10,000 sex partners in the lifetime of a ‘very active’ homosexual would not be extraordinary,” the book states on page 150.

Gillette business owner Ariane Jimison, who has been in a relationship with her female partner for eight years, thinks that is a false stereotype.

“That sounds really far-fetched,” Jimison said. “Lesbians are the lowest demographic of people to contract the AIDS virus. It doesn’t add up at all.”

Jimison hadn’t heard about Mader’s book until contacted by the Star-Tribune. Jimison doesn’t know Mader personally, but she misses Wallis, she said.

“She was a great advocate and someone who used common sense and even conservatism to say how gay people should be approached and treated,” she said.

Mader said he still believes gays tend to be more promiscuous than straight people, and that promiscuity contributes to the spread of the HIV virus. He said he recently finished reading a 2011 book called “Out of A Far Country: A Gay Son’s Journey to God. A Broken Mother’s Search for Hope,” by Christopher Yuan and Angela Yuan.

“And (Christopher) graphically illustrates the real problem in homosexuality is the promiscuity,” Mader said. “When you’re talking about numbers (in “The Death Sentence of AIDS”) we were quoting the best we could find at the time.”

Jimison isn’t buying it.

“I can’t speak for every person in the world, and there are probably promiscuous people,” she said. “I’m a very, very modest person, as is my partner. The idea of gays as promiscuous? I don’t fit that stereotype. Most gay couples I know don’t fit that stereotype. That doesn’t really meet anything I know to be true.”

Gay promiscuity isn’t the only way AIDS is transmitted, Mader said. Transmission is the result of promiscuous lifestyles that also include adultery and prostitution.

Mader doesn’t support gay marriage because he doesn’t think it is the job of the Wyoming Legislature to grant that right.

Gay rights

“I’ll be honest with you: We don’t have standing to change the definition of marriage,” he said. “We didn’t make it. Either nature did, if you believe in evolution, or God did, if you believe in the Bible. But either way, it happened at a time and we can’t effect that change.”

Marriage between one man and one woman has been the pillar of society since the beginning of history, he said.

“And we can play words semantics all we want, but we don’t have the standing to change it,” he said. “It will remain the same regardless of what any legislature does.”

On Feb. 13, Mader voted with a majority of Wyoming House members against a bill that would have changed the definition of marriage in Wyoming from a male and female to two natural persons. The bill failed. That same day, Mader voted in favor of another bill that would have prohibited Wyoming courts and state agencies from recognizing out-of-state and out-of country gay marriages. That bill also failed.

Artery, of the Cheyenne-based Wyoming Equality, said the issue of gay rights is becoming less partisan. Last week, seven Republican lawmakers wrote a Star-Tribune guest column arguing gay marriage strengthens families, which they said is a conservative value.

Mader doesn’t believe all gay-marriage activists are fighting for morality and values, he said.

“Well, if you’re concerned about (marriage), why aren’t you on the bandwagon for all these people who choose to live together and not get married?” he asked.

Sourcing

During an interview with the Star-Tribune, Mader declined to defend statistics and health care recommendations in “The Death Sentence of AIDS.” The book only quoted what other experts said decades ago, he said.

For instance, the book recommended mandatory testing for everyone — including children.

“If not, it would be well to enroll your children in a private school that does test for AIDS, or take other actions you, the parent, deem necessary in protecting your children from the AIDS virus infection,” according to a summary at the end of a chapter called “Transmission Precautions.”

The Star-Tribune asked Mader whether he still thinks everyone should get tested.

“You’re asking the wrong person,” he said. “That’s what the experts recommended at the time. I will say this: I haven’t seen anything to refute their statements at the time. Again, that was 30 years ago. I have researched a lot of issues over the years. I am not up to speed on all the issues the experts said back then.”

If Mader was trying to distance himself from some of the content in the book, that’s unacceptable, said Artery, of Wyoming Equality.

“He’s the one that collected all of those quotes and put them together and then put his name on it,” Artery said. “And it would concern me that he’s trying to distance himself. Ultimately, the responsibility rests with him. We all have responsibilities for our actions.”

Mader’s book quotes people who claim to have studied the sex lives of homosexuals. It describes supposed activities in gay bath houses, and goes into a discussion of sex toys and sex acts.

Another author quoted in the book is Gene Antonio, who wrote “The AIDS Cover-Up?: The Real and Alarming Facts about AIDS” and “AIDS: A Weapon in the Hands of Militant Homosexuals.”

But Mader notes he also used quotes from Scientific American and the Journal of the American Medical Association. He said he also quoted well-known gays at the time. He said all his sources are credible, and he vetted research and discarded information “from the book to try to keep it professional,” he said.

Interest in AIDS

Mader said his chose to look into HIV and AIDS because it was a time when everyone was interested in the disease.

“Back then, people were worried that it might turn into an epidemic,” he said. “Even the (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) printed some material as far as precautions that it might become an epidemic. So it was something everyone was thinking about at the time. I didn’t know much about it at the time, so I went and studied it.”

More than 650,000 Americans infected with the HIV virus have died since 1981, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. The figures in Wyoming have remained relatively small in comparison. Between about 1983 and 2012, 412 people in Wyoming were diagnosed with HIV, according to the state Department of Health 2012 AIDS Fact Sheet. A total of 168 people with HIV and AIDS died during that period, although the Health Department cannot say if they all died of complications from the virus and AIDS, said department spokeswoman Kim Deti.

In 2012, there were 13 newly reported HIV cases in Wyoming. The most commonly reported risk factor, according to the Health Department, is men having sex with other men, followed by intravenous drug use and heterosexual sex.

Mader doesn’t know any gay people in Gillette. But he says he does have gay friends who live outside the area.

“I don’t preach to them,” he said. “They know where I stand. I know where they stand. We get along great.”

Mader also said he knows some people from outside Campbell County who have died of AIDS complications.

“And I watched them suffer to some degree and it wasn’t pleasant,” he said.

Defender

Garry Becker is a retired Gillette physician and member of the Campbell County Commission. He voted for Mader to replace Wallis in House District 52.

Becker hasn’t read the book, but has known Mader from the time they both volunteered for a county sheriff’s posse in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

“A lot of us said weird things 30 years ago,” Becker said. “I met with him probably weekly for 10 years on the posse. He wasn’t any weirder than the rest of us.”

Becker said much of the knowledge of the medical community at the beginning of the virus’ spread was inaccurate.

“We first became aware of it in the early ’80s,” he said. “We didn’t even know what it was in the beginning. We just knew people were dying.”

Many ideas in published books die out after a few years, Becker said. “The Population Bomb,” for example, first published in 1968 by Stanford University professor Paul Ehrlich, claimed overpopulation in the 1990s was going to cause mass starvation, causing people to starts wars over a crust of bread. The predictions didn’t come true.

“One analogy you can draw from this — and I haven’t read Troy Mader’s book — is it isn’t as far out there as Paul Ehrlich’s book,” Becker said.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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