Separate Is NOT Equal

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Separate Is NOT Equal

Post  Richard on Mon Apr 19, 2010 8:40 am

California has the best lgbt laws in the USA - kids, seniors, work, medical ... we have every protection - except marriage equality. Still, those who rank such things say California has more lgbt protections than any other state - even Massachusetts. Yet, with California's separate but NOT equal system of laws protecting our families, this horror was inflicted on Harold and Clay - partners for over 20 years in Sonoma County, California. NOT South Carolina, not Texas - California. Watch this short video and understand why I am speaking of basic human rights. Thanks.

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Re: Separate Is NOT Equal

Post  lesherb on Mon Apr 19, 2010 2:34 pm

I thought the United States learned that separate but equal was not possible during the civil rights movement?

How would this situation be handled in the UK or Australia or other countries?
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Re: Separate Is NOT Equal

Post  MaryAnneLive on Mon Apr 19, 2010 2:50 pm

Keep speaking out Richard. We will speak with you. And I will teach my daughter to look at people as people. Not as their skin color, culture or sexual preference. We are all human beings.

That being said. I don't actually believe that the federal government should involve itself in anyones marriage. It should raise a standing army and maybe, maybe the interstate highway system (although I think Toll roads are the way to go). But, if they are going to butt in, we should all have the same rights.

I didn't really care for the video though. I thought that it was intentionally inflammatory (lol, literally witht he fire) and perhaps would have liked a few more facts. Like how on earth did they commit the man in good health to a nursing home? Where the hell was his lawyer? All of these things are indescribably awful. But what else was going? You can't commit someone to a nursing home without reason.

I honestly think that if we were not already married that my husband and I might not have tied the knot legally, it seems obscene to do it when a lot of our friends do not have that right.

Mary Anne
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Re: Separate Is NOT Equal

Post  milo on Mon Apr 19, 2010 3:07 pm

I couldn't post this link....it's gone viral on facebook:

On Thursday, President Obama issued a memorandum that reinforces hospital visitation rights for same-sex couples by threatening federal funding cuts if hospitals discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. As such, the issue of local authorities not adhering to medical directives or power of attorney rights when it comes to same-sex couples has been set firmly in the spotlight.

For obvious reasons, this is an issue of particular concern for many older and elderly LGBTs who may very well depend on established health care directives and the like to ensure that their wishes are adhered to when they are incapable, whether due to infirmity or an unforeseen health emergency, of communicating relevant details for hospital visitation rights and end-of-life decisions.

The following story documents one such incident of discrimination against a same-sex couple from Sonoma, California, who took all the required legal steps to establish their health care directives and power of attorney rights, but whose preparations were allegedly ignored by county officials that, despite the couple's 20 year relationship, considered them nothing more than "roommates" and kept them apart when, after an accident, one of them was hospitalized in 2008.

From the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) case summary:


Clay [Greene] 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 [but, as this report attests, had been starting to show early signs of cognitive impairment].

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.

Clay and Harold did not take advantage of California's domestic partnership law and obviously weren't married in the brief time between California's marriage bans.

Instead, and like many older gay and lesbian couples, they relied on having drafted all the other appropriate legal documents naming each other as beneficiaries of their respective estates and agents for medical decisions and the like, so as to protect their wishes and assets in case of an emergency. This should have been enough. Apparently, it wasn't.

The next part of this story is truly heartbreaking and is taken from a separate, more detailed post from the NCLR:

... [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.

The court, however, chose to deny that motion, but did grant county officials what the NCLR calls "limited access" to Harold's finances in order to pay for his care. This, it seems, was insufficient. The NCLR goes on:

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 later, Harold died in the nursing home he had been placed in, and Clay, because of the County's actions, could not be at his partner's bedside during those final months. With the exception of but one photo album that Harold had painstakingly put together for Clay during his declining weeks of life, Clay has been left without any of his personal possessions to remind him of the 20-year relationship he shared with Harold as, to date, he has not been able to recover any of the items that were auctioned off.

Clay has reportedly now been released from the nursing home following an appeal by his court-appointed attorney, Anne Dennis. Now, Ms. Dennis along with Stephen O'Neill and Margaret Flynn of Tarkington, O'Neill, Barrack & Chong, will be representing Clay in legal action against the County, the auction company and the nursing home, with technical assistance being provided by the NCLR.

A trial date has been set for July 16, 2010 in the Superior Court for the County of Sonoma.

It is perhaps pertinent to note that Sonoma County voted against Proposition 8, California's gay marriage ban, by 66.1 percent in 2008, and that it is largely considered to be a progressive area where LGBT issues are concerned. As such, the emergence of this story serves to highlight the need for Thursday's memorandum, as it demonstrates that instances of discrimination can occur mostly anywhere.

However, President Obama's memorandum grazes only one of the 1138 rights that marriage affords heterosexual couples that are currently denied their same-sex counterparts. As such, the need to repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is also brought into stark focus if we are to ensure that same-sex couples are not left vulnerable beyond the narrow focus of Thursday's memorandum.

For more information on end-of-life issues and the legal problems facing older LGBT people, please click here.
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Re: Separate Is NOT Equal

Post  marion on Mon Apr 19, 2010 5:29 pm

Couldn't get to the link either - so thanks for the explaination Milo.
Lesherb I have it in mind to ask friends how it is in Oz.
I guess the short answer is that it took me 15 minutes to think of anyone to ask - and I know a lot of g/l couples.
The first one I thought of I've only known for 20 odd years - it's just not the terms of reference by which I think of her.
She is N who worked for H.
And I had an invitation to her brother's wedding the night before!!
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Re: Separate Is NOT Equal

Post  Richard on Tue Apr 20, 2010 3:35 pm

If you think that YouTube was incendiary, you ain't seen nothing yet! Just take a look at the facts as presented in the actual civil lawsuit. I especially like the part where defendants humiliated the man for GRIEVING after they told him his partner of 25 years had been dead for several days.

Actual Civil Law Suit
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Re: Separate Is NOT Equal

Post  MaryAnneLive on Wed Apr 21, 2010 10:23 pm

Richard,
I do agree that the whole situation is unconscionable and disgusting. I just simply cannot believe that people could treat other human beings this way. I just wanted to say that my criticism of the video was more from a PR/ Marketing and filmmaking perspective. (That is what I used to do before the migraines). I think that it would have been a more effective video if had been done a different way. That doesn't change how I feel about the topic Smile I am just prone to criticize media, I can't help it!

Mary Anne
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