I recently came across an article about an elderly gay couple Harold and Clay, who shared a life together for 20 years, who were forcibly separated from one another by the State of California when one of them fell ill.
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.
Now given that the State of California and the County of Sonoma completely ignored the perfectly legal and well defined paperwork that these men had already filled out, including end of life directives and surviving power of attorney, it is probable that had they been married or civilly partnered those too would have simply been ignored in this inexplicable tragedy.
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