Elderly Gay Couple’s Life Together Destroyed by Discrimination

Dan Savage at Slog points us to this story, which is really tragic and infuriating:

HouseClay 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…

And that's only the very, very beginning of this story. Head over to NCLR to read more about this awful case they're helping fight….


  1. jack says

    maybe obama can issue a memo…

    oh wait, equal marriage would stop this from happening.

    it drives me crazy knowing this when people, even some GAY people say what’s in a word, or why bother.

  2. E. says

    At this point I’m almost inured to the depressing regularity with which the rights of gay men and women are violated every day in this country. But this story is beyond the pale. Because more than just bureaucratic indifference was at work here: Clay and Harold could only have been treated this way through a uniquely vile combination of heartlessness and hate.

    I hope all the people who did this to them pay a steep price, but I’m not holding my breath.

  3. Kevzin says

    I love in Sonoma County and this just hit me I will be there in court to hear what happens I can not believe this I grew up here and this is just to sad it makes me rethink about staying here to live out my life

  4. Christopher says

    This just truly brought tears of sadness and anger to my eyes.

    What really got me, the part that made me spitting angry, was that the county took Clay’s possessions to pay for Harold’s care. Essentially, in my opinion, the hateful bastards were willing to think of them as being together when it came to money, but considered them separate when it came to granting them any shred common human decency, like allowing someone to visit a loved one in the hospital.

    Disgusting, despicable, and deplorable.

  5. voet says

    This really angers me. My partner of 31 years died 8 years ago. I cared for him in our home and fortunately, his family was very supportive. We had durable power of attorney, medical directives and ever other piece of paper our attorney advised us to have. Clearly that does not mean anything to people intent on destroying our relationships. This is beyond heartless; it is not homophobia; it is homo-hatred.

  6. X says

    Episodes like these keep making me want to urge other Americans one thing: For those who are really frustrated, and who would like a new start, I’d recommend trying to work and live in Canada or Europe where gay people are more welcome and respected. I think if you’re willing to help out another country or continent become better by working hard in it, you could really do well in these places in return. Worked for me. Europe can be a great place to live for some gays, and maybe after some time you can move back to the US to take with you any good things you’ve picked up. Or stay!

  7. Henry Beaton says

    As a 72 year old in a 49 year relationship with Richard who is
    80 we think we have all bases covered with all our signed
    documents, but we can see how little that can matter.
    What a horror story.

  8. princely54 says

    After the tears comes the anger, and the goddamn law. These bastards deserve to be taken to court and financially raped for not honoring the legal papers.

  9. GGREEN says

    I had a cordial if not loving relationship with my partner of 11 years’ family. When my partner got sick I had all the necessary legal documents thank god. His family put me through hell trying to take everything we owned separately and together. Also trying to force their wishes for his health directives on us. When he died they got an attorney to try to get a small insurance policy he had left to me. They finally got it, the policy was for 10k which I was going to have to spend 20k in legal fees to keep.

  10. Zlick says

    I don’t think being married would have helped Harold and Clay. The Sonoma County officials broke all laws to do these heinous acts, and their hatred of gays and disregard for law and order would not have stopped them from ignoring a marriage certificate between two men when they consider such a document to be a crime against the will of god.

    If only there WERE a god to show these vile monsters her will in their afterlife, which could not come soon enough to suit me.

  11. CKNJ says

    It’s been a long time since I have been this angry at injustice… I always stand up for an underdog, but this situation made me totally lose it! These bastards that did this to Clay and Harold should be JAILED never mind lose their jobs! It is terrible to be so hateful towards these two men and dismissive of their relationship, but it is CRIMINAL to defy the legal documents.

    I donated to NCLR to help with this (and other cases they undertake)… I ask you guys who as outraged as I am to do the same. Let’s get justice served!

    My heart goes out to Clay, and to Harold…. I cannot even imagine the emotional hell they must have gone through being torn apart like that!

  12. Joe says

    Unbelievable!!! remember this could happen to you in the near future, despite having your files/paperwork in order, tired of being tired as a second class citizen??? let’s act, instead of react

  13. robertmalcolm says

    This is just one reason why marriage equality is SO important. This story is not just horribly sad but worthy of some “heads rolling” for it’s inhumanity. I can’t fathom the hopelessness both Harold and Clay must have felt as all this transpired. And I agree this deserves national attention — let’s hope Rachel Maddow picks it up.

  14. says

    My heart goes out to Clay. I hope he gains restitution, in whatever form it takes.

    RIP Harold.

    And as for all those involved in creating the terror the couple has had to endure… well, let’s just say it’s a good thing that I am not your judge and executioner.

  15. Matt says

    California shows how progressive it is. Marriage still legal in Iowa.

    After this story, I can say that I have had my last glass of overpriced Sonoma County cabernet oak-juice.

  16. says

    We are systematically demonized, excluded, and mistreated (really outright abused; financially, emotionally, and psychologically).

    Yet we pay taxes AS IF we are “real citizens”. What kind of “citizen” of a free democracy would ever put up with this shit?

    Bullies know that the sissies do not fight back (with anything besides sheets of paper and marches). It’s time society’s “sissies” use their FISTS (tax dollars). Anything else will be systematically ignored and dismissed.


  17. romeo says

    They had all their paperwork in place, and the country decided to pursue this course anyway? What kind of dipsticks are in positions of authority there to leave the county wide open to liability that way? They should be made to pay and pay and pay for that cruelty. And everyone that contributed to the decisions that brought about this tragedy should be hounded to the ends of the fucking earth.

    Let’s get on it.

  18. Scott Farmer says

    Every health care worker, RN’s, physicians, county officials, and nursing home administrators who participated in this injustice should be fired. Not one cent will I ever again pay to anything that supports Sonoma County!!!

  19. Rann says

    I agree with the comments about this hideous injustice. What if we all donated to a fund directly for Clay so he can start to rebuild his life. I know it will be so empty without his partner but he does still need to live and eat and pay rent. I am not sure who could make sure he got it.

  20. Bobel says

    Obama recently signed a bill that prevents this from happening. Again this kind of discrimination simply shows the ignorance and mis-understanding of people about what one would call, common compassion about another human being… L O V E !

  21. says

    I find myself wondering if the people involved realize the gravity of their actions concerning those pesky little legal documents known as medical directives. People should indeed be fired for this, as well as legal actions against those parties involved. I’d suggest legal actions against the hospital but they’re having enough trouble getting paid as it is. Too bad the new healthcare plan doesn’t go into effect until after we’re all supposed to be dead in 2012!

  22. says

    It is not right for the 2 people to be treated this way. We don’t have to judge people base on their sexual preference. They are entitled to live with a life free of any kind of discrimination. They too have dignity, and we are not God to judge just like that.

  23. David says

    The Sonoma Prosecutor for this case just emailed me. Apparently there is more to this story:

    Thank you for your email regarding the Harold Scull and Clay Greene matter involving the Sonoma County Public Guardian’s Office. We appreciate the concern that has been expressed by the comments received and know that when the full facts are able to be revealed there will be a better understanding. It is the policy of this department not to disclose confidential matters concerning clients assisted by the agencies operating under its direction. This is consistent with federal and state privacy laws.

    What can be legally shared at this point is as follows: The Sonoma County Public Guardian became involved in this matter as a result of a report from Harold Scull that Clay Greene had physically assaulted him, resulting in Mr. Scull’s hospitalization. Mr. Greene’s domestic violence against Mr. Scull has been independently verified during the course of litigation, including reports of witnesses who tended to Mr. Scull following his hospitalization. While criminal charges were not filed, that does not mean there was no domestic violence. In order to file criminal charges, there must be proof beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the highest standard known in the law.

    Recent online commentary reflects a distorted presentation of the underlying facts. The County is confident that when the full facts can be discussed they will show the individuals involved received appropriate services. More importantly, we are confident that the facts will show that the services received by Mr. Scull and Mr. Greene reflect the ongoing commitment to protect vulnerable citizens from harm and that no issues of discrimination were present.

    Unfortunately, it appears the Plaintiffs are trying to litigate this case through the internet and the press – trying to spin the case as one of insensitivity towards people who happen to be gay by County Staff. In fact, this case is really about domestic violence and the statutory obligation the County has to protect vulnerable individuals from abuse and harm.

    The heart of this case is protecting an elder victim of domestic violence. That’s why the Public Guardian’s Office took the actions it did. The County has a long history of taking a strong stand against domestic violence no matter who is the victim.

    Very truly yours,

    Joshua A. Myers
    Deputy County Counsel
    Sonoma County Counsel’s Office

  24. says

    it is a sad state of affairs. My partner and I have shared 34 years together and we have all of the legal paperwork in place as well. So much for that, huh? It concerns me as he is HIV positive and a day will come where he’ll finally succumb to either the meds or the disease and to think that someone would try to keep us apart is genuinely frightening.

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