Skip to main content

All too often, the quest for civil rights for LGBT persons in the United States has been pushed to the back burner in recent years.  But a recently filed lawsuit in California demonstrates chillingly just how essential this battle is, and how nothing but equal civil marriage rights for LGBT persons is enough.

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.

This was hardly the end of Clay Greene's suffering at the hands of Sonoma County.  The County proceeded to remove Greene from his home against his will and had him confined to a nursing home.  They then proceeded, without being granted the authority by the courts, to auction off his and his partners possessions and to have his lease terminated on his home.

Three months after his fall, Harold passed away in the hospital.  Because of the actions of Sonoma County, Clay and Harold were unable to spend that time together.  Due to their further actions, Clay Greene has lost nearly every possession that he and his partner shared.  With the help of several attorneys and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Mr. Greene is suing the County along with the auction company and the nursing home.  But no victory in court will return to him the chance to be with his partner at the end of his life, or the mementos of decades spent together.

The failure to provide truly equal rights for LGBT persons in America gives bigots and bureaucrats the opportunity to destroy lives, particularly in people's most vulnerable moments.  It makes it easy for them.

And we have a responsibility to protect them.  The time to do so is not merely now, but yesterday, and long before that.  What will we tell the Clay Greene's of our nation if we continue to fail to act?

Originally posted to Jay Elias on Mon Apr 19, 2010 at 09:12 PM PDT.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site