Two Gay Men, Two Lives Saved, Two Different Tales

| by Jerome McCollom

This is the difference between 35 years, and presidents of different political parties.

President Obama stated about Daniel Hernandez, a young gay man and intern for Congresswoman Gifford who was shot in Tucson, "We are grateful for Daniel Hernandez, a volunteer in Gabby’s office …you ran through the chaos to minister to your boss, and tended to her wounds and help keep her alive."

When President Ford was in San Francisco in 1975, his life was saved by a gay man who grabbed the arm of a woman who was about to shoot at Ford during a speech. 

When it came out in the local newspaper that the man who had saved President's Ford life, Oliver "Billy" Sipple, was gay, his brother was insulted at the Ford plant by his fellow co-workers. Billy Sipple's mother was insulted by her church friends.

President Ford did not invite Mr. Sipple to the White House, though he sent a couple of letters, including to the bar that Mr. Sipple hung out at. This is understandable, but unfortunate, in  light of 1970s GOP politics.

Can anyone really imagine a Republican president fighting for the nomination in 1976 by trying to appeal to arch-conservative religious primary voters by inviting a an openly gay man to the White House? Even one that saved his life?  

The case of Sipple reminded me of Ben Parker, a black man who in 1901 who would have saved the life of President McKinley who was shot while in an expo in Buffalo, NY, if not for medical incompetence afterwards.

All these individuals disaplyed great courage even though much of society looked down at them for who they are and were.