Monday, April 19, 2010

Sonoma County, California --- A Place for Hate

I've been watching this story progress through the blogosphere for several days.  I am more than horrified that the legal rights of an elderly gay couple have been violated.  I think that Dan Savage over at the Slog had the headline just right:

Elderly Gay Couple Forcibly Separated, Abused, Robbed By County Officials in California


I've written about my fear of having this same thing happen with Bill and I.  We have Powers of Attorney for each other.  We have Wills that leave everything to the other.  We have Medical Powers of Attorney so that we may honor the wishes of one another.  We even contacted our State Representative in Michigan to solicit the opinion of Michigan's Attorney General to be certain that the anti-gay marriage amendment passed in Michigan a few years back would not invalidate the legal documents that we spent good money obtaining from a respected Port Huron lawyer.  We can't get married to otherwise institutionalize those legal rights.......and all the other special rights given to married couples.......


And, folks wonder why we still fear that some lame-ass county administrator could make our final days miserable.


From the NCLR:

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.

This video/audio presentation has a summary.  (Video -- Hat tip:  Joe.My.God.)


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