Equal Rights is All We Ask For

Clay and his partner of 20 years, Harold, lived in California. Clay and Harold made diligent efforts to protect their legal rights, and had their legal paperwork in place—wills, powers of attorney, and medical directives, all naming each other. Harold was 88 years old and in frail medical condition, but still living at home with Clay, 77, who was in good health.

One evening, Harold fell down the front steps of their home and was taken to the hospital. Based on their medical directives alone, Clay should have been consulted in Harold’s care from the first moment. Tragically, county and health care workers instead refused to allow Clay to see Harold in the hospital. The county then ultimately went one step further by isolating the couple from each other, placing the men in separate nursing homes.

Ignoring Clay’s significant role in Harold’s life, the county continued to treat Harold like he had no family and went to court seeking the power to make financial decisions on his behalf. Outrageously, the county represented to the judge that Clay was merely Harold’s “roommate.” The court denied their efforts, but did grant the county limited access to one of Harold’s bank accounts to pay for his care.

What happened next is even more chilling: without authority, without determining the value of Clay and Harold’s possessions accumulated over the course of their 20 years together or making any effort to determine which items belonged to whom, the county took everything Harold and Clay owned and auctioned off all of their belongings. Adding further insult to grave injury, the county removed Clay from his home and confined him to a nursing home against his will. The county workers then terminated Clay and Harold's lease and surrendered the home they had shared for many years to the landlord.

Three months after he was hospitalized, Harold died in the nursing home. Because of the county’s actions, Clay missed the final months he should have had with his partner of 20 years. Compounding this tragedy, Clay has literally nothing left of the home he had shared with Harold or the life he was living up until the day that Harold fell, because he has been unable to recover any of his property. The only memento Clay has is a photo album that Harold painstakingly put together for Clay during the last three months of his life.

With the help of a dedicated and persistent court-appointed attorney, Anne Dennis of Santa Rosa, Clay was finally released from the nursing home. Ms. Dennis, along with Stephen O'Neill and Margaret Flynn of Tarkington, O'Neill, Barrack & Chong, now represent Clay in a lawsuit against the county, the auction company, and the nursing home, with technical assistance from NCLR. A trial date has been set for July 16, 2010 in the Superior Court for the County of Sonoma.

Story from NCLR

This is why we as gay people need equal rights. Even though these guys had all there papers in order they still got fucked without a kiss. Shame on Sonoma California, the auction company, and the nursing home oh and the hospital. Really people is it going to hurt that much that we all have the same rights? Is it going to make that much difference in your straight life? No it's not but it will make all the difference in our gay life. Clay couldn't even be with his partner of 20 sum years when he past away how can that be right? TELL ME PLEASE I don't understand it how is that right? Lets say a little prayer for Clay today and lets hope that Sonoma, the auction company, nursing home & hospital gets what its got coming to it!
7 Responses
  1. Chris Pitman Says:

    You know.......all i can say is I hope clay takes them to the cleaners. No one deserves this. As far as other parts Ryan you know how i feel

  2. ryan field Says:

    We do need equal rights. But I have to say that I've been in a position where I've been forced to use power of attorney papers and other legal documents and they worked for me. With the power of attorney, no one could screw around with me and I had the aggressive control I needed. I've been posting about helping a friend with HIV get his disability back, and I've been his legal power of attorney through the whole process. Once I filed the POA papers with the insurance company and the lawyers, I took control and had no problems whatsoever. And, these are all out of state agencies who have been respectful and have honored my legal power of attorney from PA...without question or hesitation. I'm just winding up the case with my friend and there has been a decision I'll post about soon. But I learned a lot about how important it is to have legal POA. And I honestly have not come across any discrimination.

    I don't totally understand this case with Clay, and I think there's some vital information we're not getting in this story. I know many older gay couples who have wills, legal POA, and other protective contracts and they are safe in most respects (not with taxes, though). But regardless of that, we *need* equal rights so gay couples don't have to go out and get all kinds of legal documents to get the same rights straight married couples have.

  3. Aaron Says:

    RF is correct in that there are essential facts missing because this similar story has happened with straight couples, too. You see, at virtually any time someone in a government agency can make a determination about your life and set the wheels in motion to take everything from you. And, it takes Sysiphion effort to stop the machine because the machine falls back on "We're just protecting the citizens."

    Don't get me wrong, I do not condone the government's behaviour; but where were their friends and family? Where was representation?

  4. naturgesetz Says:

    I agree with you, Ryan: if this couple had signed all the papers to be each other's health care proxy etc., then everybody who ignored them should get taken to the cleaners.

    But there could be more to this, like why did they put Clay in a nursing home if he was in good health? How could they do that?

    But anyway, it shouldn't have happened. Even under current law, it shouldn't have have been possible.

  5. WB Says:

    Totally heinous! Ugly! What good Christians they must have been! It angers me. We need to somehow change this kind of cruelty!

  6. alice Says:

    sadlythis can happen in any country. All it takes is a pen stroke from a small minded beaurocrat and two lives are stuffed forever. This isnot a shame, it's a bloody tragedy.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    This is sad...But Ryan has a point
    that somewhere there is missing
    information...It still isn't right
    what happened to either one of
    them...I will pray that Clay's
    story will make other people think
    before they go about how they
    do things...
    Alice is right too...It only takes
    onee small mind to ruin a bunch
    of lives...