Is boy being helped or used by Christian right?
That question came up in February when
the Rutherford Institute, a law firm that has represented "AIDS is
God's wrath" fundies and antigay ministers -- announced it would
represent 12-year-old Michael Montalvo. The PWA, whose mom and
sister died of AIDS, is suing a Colonial Heights, Virginia karate
school that kicked him out in the interest of safety, charging a
violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. James Radcliffe,
owner of the USA Bushidokan karate center, explained: "There's
definitely a risk involved. Kids' lips and noses bleed." A federal
judge upheld the expulsion, and the decision is being appealed by
Rutherford. Last fall, the firm seized the spotlight when it took on
Paula Jones' sexual harassment suit against the prez.
Rutherford's founder, John Whitehead, told POZ, "The
flavor of this case caught my eye: He didn't go out and contract HIV
-- he got it from genetics or whatever." So are only "innocent AIDS
victims" eligible for his help? "We're considering an AIDS
discrimination case of an openly gay man," replied Whitehead, whose
direct-mail appeals up to last year display a history of antigay
diatribes and opposition to safer-sex education and condom
distribution in schools. Whitehead also told POZ he hopes the
Montalvo case will give him "a voucher" within the AIDS community:
"People with AIDS haven't wanted to be represented by us. Give me
some time. You'll see."
See a PR stunt, according to Chip Berlet, of Political Research
Associates, a Boston think-tank that monitors the right wing.
"Taking the Montalvo case is a well-crafted scam by Whitehead to
cover his tracks," he said.