Tuesday, April 20, 2010

This can happen anywhere!

This is yet another reason that I am no longer living in the US. To think that something like this can still happen, and in California, leaves me speechless. So much for CA being a progressive state.

A Devastating Loss: Clay and Harold and the Rights of LGBT Elders

California | Pending
Greene v. County of Sonoma et al.

Clay and his partner of 20 years, Harold, lived in California. As long-time partners, they had named each other beneficiaries of their respective estates, agents for medical decisions. As 2008 began, Harold was 88 years old and in deteriorating health. Clay, 11 years younger, was physically strong, but beginning to show signs of cognitive impairment. The two men lived in a country home with too many steps that required much work to keep up, but the men loved the views and being surrounded by nature and living a quiet life with each other and their cats. As Harold’s health declined, it became apparent that they would need assistance, but the men resisted outside help.

One spring day, as the men were preparing to go out, Harold fell down the front steps of their home. Clay immediately called the ambulance and Harold was taken to the hospital. There, the men’s nightmare began. First, county and health care workers refused to allow Clay to see Harold. Then, while Harold was hospitalized, Deputy Public Guardians went to the men’s home, took photographs, and commented on the desirability and quality of the furnishings, artwork, and collectibles that the men had collected over their lifetimes.

Ignoring Clay entirely, the County focused on Harold, going so far as to petition the Court for conservatorship of his estate. Outrageously referring to Clay only as a “roommate” and failing to disclose their true relationship, the County continued to treat Harold as if he had no family. The County sought immediate temporary authority to revoke Harold’s powers of attorney, to act without further notice, and to liquidate an investment account to pay for his care. Then, despite being granted only limited powers, and with undue haste, the County arranged for the sale of the men’s personal property, cleaned out their home, terminated their lease, confiscated their truck, and eventually disposed of all of the men’s worldly possessions, including family heirlooms, at a fraction of their value and without any proper inventory or determination of whose property was being sold.

Adding further insult to grave injury, the county removed Clay from their home and confined him to a nursing home against his will—a different placement from his partner. Clay was kept from seeing Harold during this time, and his telephone calls were limited. Three months after he was hospitalized, Harold died. 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 or his beloved cats—who are feared dead. 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 have been retained to represent Clay and his partner's executor 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.

Clay and Harold


oreneta said...

Oh. My. GOD!

Those poor men.

I am left literally speechless. What sort of utter lunatics are running that bit of the world. Sadly, there are all too many like them. They don't even have the excuse that the men didn't have their papers in order. They had everything done, i's dotted and t's crossed.

I sincerely hope they get shot down hard in court.


Actually, unfortunately it's not.

Hopefully not in BC anyway.

Canada Calling said...


I'm so glad we have escaped that nightmare, but my heart breaks for these men.

kipperfrog said...

That is horrendous. I don't know how anyone could be so heartless!


no matter what the court says, those 3 months can never be given back to them. sad way to mourn for a loved one...


Jason, as himself said...

I heard this whole story a while back but somehow I missed the part that they are from California. I assumed it must have been Nebraska or somewhere like that. I was so dismayed when I learned it was California.