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Yo Barack, how about an EO on this?


From Bilerico via Corrente:

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.

The worst parts of this tragedy have nothing to do with any hospital rules:

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.

The two men were unable to see each other during the final three months of Harold’s life, and almost everything they owned is gone.

Sonoma County is about an hour north of San Francisco, just above Marin County. When I lived up that way in the mid-eighties it was a fairly liberal place with a sizable LGBT community. Not exactly a hot bed of homophobia.

Words fail.


53 Responses

    • It is perhaps pertinent to note that Sonoma County voted against Proposition 8, California’s gay marriage ban, by 66.1 percent in 2008, and that it is largely considered to be a progressive area where LGBT issues are concerned.

  1. Words fail indeed. I don’t even know how to express my anger.

  2. I expect it will not be long before the broke and destitute counties in California do infringe on other types of legally sanctioned relationships… As a native Californian this pains me, but it has been happening for two+ decades. I love my home state and I miss my family, but I will not live in the framework of such an unstable State government.

    I am not sure this is anti-gay in as much as it is a broke ass county in a broke ass state and the rule of law, and standards of human decency are decayed even further than was apparent up to this point.

    • I concur, kind of. In my county, the same sort of thing was done when a man died in our county. Property was sold at auction without contacting the family. Still, this is far beyond that. They had legal documents showing their partnership and none of it did any good.

  3. What a heartbreaking story.

  4. Why didn’t this story get press from the local mainstream media sooner? Why did we have to find out about this through The Bilerico Project? This happened near the Bay Area. If it can happen here it can happen anywhere. Where were the couple’s lawyers, the media, and the gay rights activists? Where were the Obama supporters and Democrats who lived in the area? It’s outrageous that no one came to their aid sooner.

    • Obama supporters? They only care about being Obama supporters, they don’t really want to do any actual grass roots work. And those are the ‘progressive’ ones, not the fundamentalist conservatives he courted with his homophobic subtext.

  5. It’s also elder abuse. I hope Clay finds a good lawyer and sues the county.

  6. I am originally from there, and am stunned and horrified. How many gay retirees are in Sonoma County? Like, all of them??

    It IS the Bay Area – it’s considered part of the North Bay.

    It’s obviously totally illegal. That will rue this appalling behavior. I hope both men have a lot of relatives to help sue. I mean, I’m not a lawyer, not sure how this works.

  7. How can this be?

    • Well first of all, gays and lesbians can’t get married. That means they have none of the legal rights that married people get.

      • but he had the legally designated POWER OF ATTORNEY, legal whether a married spouse or not!!!

        I mean, your point is important, but they had dotted all their Is and crossed all their Ts. This is just flat Totalitarianism seizure. It’s unfricking believable.

        • Conservatorships require service of process on the spouse of the proposed ward – a “friend” with a POA doesn’t have any rights.

          • It’s amazing how so many people on the “right” and “left” profess their love of freedom to enjoy the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness;” but only on *their* terms.

            What I don’t get is how a state/county can involuntarily commit a healthy 77 year old to a home? How is that legal? What can someone do to protect themselves from such imprisonment?

        • Sad and tragic story. But as far as I’m concerned, it makes the case for gay marriage. Some states argue that civil unions or appropriate powers of attorney are all that are required to achieve the safety of the 1049 rights that married straight couples have, but clearly that’s not true.

          Meanwhile California, gays can legally marry in Iowa. Embarrassing, isn’t it?

          • Beyond embarrassing. myiq is right. Words fail. They just fail.

          • Not to mention the financial expense of having to try to legally cover those 1049 rights with attorneys, etc. Anyone else can go to the local courthouse, and be automatically granted those rights. People do not understand this.

          • There’s legal, and then there’s enforcement of what’s legal.

            It’s recommended that “even” married hetero couples have legal documents such as Financial POA and Health Care POA set up. Plain ol’ POA is not equivalent to a Heath Care POA, as too many have found out to their dismay.

            I’m appalled at this story of such illegality happening.

  8. You say it as if Obama would have signed an EO on something else (hospital visits?) It’s important to remember, in spite of the media misuse of “order” as in “Obama orders hospitals” – all he issued was a non-binding Memorandum. Simple piece of propaganda after they stepped in it defending Elena Kagan of “charges” of being gay – when in reality she was quite open about it.
    http://www.mererhetoric.com/archives/11276084.html

    • From article:

      Of course the real losers here are Obama worshiping journalists. Many had already sketched out their hosannas to modern Lincoln, focusing on the bravery it took to nominate “the first openly gay Supreme Court justice.” In their minds the most stirring grafs had already been written, describing how The One had casually dismissed his advisers’ concerns about endangered Blue Dogs, grandly intoning that the eternal cause of equality must not be sacrificed at the altar of petty electoral concerns. Certainly there wouldn’t be a repeat of last June, when reporters had eagerly celebrated – and then had to rewrite – stories about Obama extending robust domestic benefits to gay couples.

      I guess eleventh dimensional chess means spinning the spin until the truth pops out. Then the truth looks so much better than the spin that you wondered why anyone bothered to spin. Then you realize that spin is a knee jerk reaction whenever a hot topic comes up. Obama – the whirlwind of spin.

  9. myiq – if you come across any future information on whether this gentleman needs help or sets up a legal fund please post. I would gladly donate to help him.

    I can’t imagine losing my partner of that many years and all of our history without a say in the matter. It’s tragic beyond description.

    • It’s amazing how so many people on the “right” and “left” profess their love of freedom to enjoy the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness;” but only on *their* terms – they being the asshats who are hypocritical POSs.

      how right you are .

  10. but that i very disturbing story

  11. Today’s tabloids give me a political niche: “Not just the tea partiers”
    I am now one of the 80% who wants the bums out.
    http://edgeoforever.wordpress.com/2010/04/19/tabloids-volcanic-ash-goldmans-trouble-not-just-the-tea-partiers/

  12. This is a frightening story for my other half and me. We are getting older with health issues and take for granted our healthcare providers as compassionate and considerate, but when the state or county get involved and especially when money issues arise, no telling what can happen. We too, think we’ve got our bases covered but I’ve often looked at our paperwork and wondered what would happen if it was misplaced or out of date. Yes, in my state, Florida, there’s an expiration date on our living wills and powers of attorney, so we have to constantly be vigilant. Plus, can we trust a provider in an emergency situation? No marriage means no rights no matter what Obama does.

    • Ask your doctors now if they would go to bat for the healthy partner to be given his/her rights in a similar situation. If not, find a doctor who will.

  13. This is very sad… it brought tears to my eyes.

    Unfortunately we have Ds and Rs playing politics with people’s human and civil rights.

  14. I’m stunned by this having lived in the Bay Area for 30 years – in a million years, I would never have imagined this happening. It is horrifying and just so sad that these men could not see each other in the last 3 months of one of their lives. Shameful.

  15. The football game kicking around Romneycare started, and there’s not saying when it will stop
    http://edgeoforever.wordpress.com/2010/04/19/disowning-the-ugly-child-heritages-romneycare/

  16. I can find no words I feel are sufficient to describe the heinousness of what these county workers did to those men. Imagine being separated from the one you love the most in the last months of your life, helpless, and there’s nothing you can do about it. As a lesbian, this frightens and disturbs me greatly.

    • I wonder, did they have no younger friends to go to bat for them. I can imagine myself finding out about an older friend going through that and assembling the troops to respond and force the county and hospital to do that right thing.
      I wonder if these guys had anyone to stick up for them.

  17. Can anyone be sued for any of this? It’s so appalling. 😦

  18. This is heartrending. Where were the advocates for the elderly?

  19. That story…imagine what it’s like in “less liberal” states. Why didn’t Clay get a lawyer? How can they just auction off all his possessions if he was in good health? Now you’ve made me start on a Monday morning 😦

  20. I am suspicious of this story. I have seen it floating around for a few days, but it doesn’t ring true.

    Could the two not talk to each other on the phone? The article does not state how the court took away the man’s possessions. Was he declared mentally incompetent?
    If these two had had lawyers write contracts for them, where were these lawyers when it cam time to defend those contracts. Why didn’t the lawyers go to the media? Why weren’t any of the organizations that help LGBT in court cases contacted?
    This article is also very light on supporting evidence like links to other articles or data.
    Until I see some other evidence, I’m chalking this one up as untrue. If, however, this were true, it should be the poster child for why LGBT need codified rights.

    • What is your basis for saying the story isn’t true? A court date has supposedly been set for July 16th in “Greene v. County of Sonoma et al.” If you knew how to google, you could find lots more. But instead you troll and expect others to answer your questions.

    • Most of your questions are answered in the article. The links provide even more information. Reading is a life skill. Try it.

      When you pay a lawyer to prepare a POA the fee does not typically include going to court to represent the client or trustee. That assumes, of course, that the POA wasn’t prepared by a paralegal service.

      By the time lawyers and LGBT organizations got involved, the damage was done.

      My only goal was to draw attention to this story. I don’t need to “prove” the story is true. Your opinion about it is less than meaningless.

      Thanks for playing, I’m sure Rico has some lovely parting gifts for you.

    • Unless someone provided him with a phone/phone service he would not be able to call anyone. In a home, without any family to look out for your well being, you are not “free” to do much of anything.

  21. There should be criminal charges here, too, starting with fraud, kidnapping and false imprisonment.

  22. this is Barbara Boxer’s home county… I believe it is time to start contacting her…

  23. The elder financial abuse aspect of this is very pertinent. It goes on all the time. I have a friend who is a PI in CA and has been brought in a couple of cases. We were horrified to discover how easy it is in CA for people to get appointed ‘Guardian’ and then whisk the person out of their home and take over their assets without family members even finding out until it is too late.

    The fact that they are gay partners probably just made it worse. I think a married couple would have had a better chance at being placed together.

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