Kate Kendell

Sonoma County CA separates elderly gay couple and sells all of their worldly possessions

Filed By Kate Kendell | April 17, 2010 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Action Alerts, Living
Tags: California, Elder Law Project, elderly gay couple, gay couples, Greene v County of Sonoma, LGBT couple, medical, power of attorney, Sonoma County

Updated at the end of the post

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 elderly_man.jpgHarold 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.

With the help of a dedicated and persistent court-appointed attorney, Anne Dennis of Santa Rosa, Clay was finally released from the nursing home. Ms. Dennis, along with Stephen O'Neill and Margaret Flynn of Tarkington, O'Neill, Barrack & Chong, now represent Clay in a lawsuit against the county, the auction company, and the nursing home, with technical assistance from NCLR. A trial date has been set for July 16, 2010 in the Superior Court for the County of Sonoma.

Read more about NCLR's Elder Law Project.

Are you disturbed by the story of how Clay Greene was treated by the County? Please blog about this, pass it on over Facebook or Twitter, just do whatever you can to help raise the visibility of what happened to Clay. Send a letter to the local paper, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat at letters@pressdemocrat.com. Send them this link to NCLR's page.

Want to stay up to date on this case? Follow NCLR and Bilerico Project on Twitter.

4-20-10 Editor's Note: After hundreds of comments seeking more details, Kate has written a profile of the two men that published today: "Meet Harold and Clay"

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How did county and health workers gain control ? Did the couple owe back taxes on the home? Were the couple drawing financial assistance from the county ? There seems to be a few holes left out of the story.

Why so quick to blame the victims there Chuck? They could not have owed back taxes on the home since they didn't own it. Whether or not they were receiving pubic assistance is immaterial, as that would not give the county the right to do what it did even if they were (and you don't know that they were).

I don't think he's necessarily blaming the victim. But I think a lot of what's horrifying about this story is that these guys seemingly did what they were supposed to do to prevent these kinds of things from happening. Why didn't it work? This might be THE case to demonstrate why piecemeal legislation doesn't do what legalized gay marriage would do, but we need to be sure that this is in fact the case. And, if it turns out there are holes in the story, what lessons are there for the rest of us until the day of legalized marriage does come.

Paul Sobrie | April 18, 2010 10:31 PM

Piecemeal legislation, that's what it is. If people choose to have religious wedding, that's fine. But marriage is much more, there's endless legal consequences, duties and rights. Gays have relationships, like it or not. So if your church doesn't like those relationships, don't have them marry gays, fine too. At least avoid situations like these and fill in the relationship legally. Call it marriage or not. On top of it, yes Mr Obama, even if you downshifted it to the state level, marriage has consequences on federal level too. Immigration is just one of the examples why it is a federal matter too (36.000 American gays are having a relationship with a non-American, and because of that, they have to move out of the country or just break up, talking about "liberty"...). It was a too easy move from you (as much as I like a lot of your policies). Great presidents are courageous. This wasn't one of your courageous moves. At all.

Jorge E Rivero | October 13, 2010 2:18 PM

I totally agree with everything you wrote Paul! I am just seeing this article for the first time today. It's tragic that these things have to happen for awareness to be drawn to the bigger picture and something be done; it is devastating when nothing gets done and haters still scream that we want special treatment.

For everyone's information, religious ceremonies are already taking place, so there goes that concept of religion. All we want is the same protection and legal right as everyone else.

What do you mean Mr.Obama? You people are so DISRESPECTFUL!!!! It's President Obama and you need to show some respect hillbilly!

Jeff, Seattle, WA | April 19, 2010 2:17 AM

This is precisely why marriage equality is essential. If Clay had been able to say to the hospital and the county "THIS is my HUSBAND", and told them exactly what he expected them to do, and what he expected to happen, things would have gone much differently. Presenting an assortment of legal documents that may or may not be read or understood by hospital employees in an emergency situation is an invitation to mistakes and misdeeds to happen and once a government entity makes a large error, they are committed to a path of mistakes and misdeeds if only to cover their asses and avoid repercussions. I hope that the lawyers representing Clay can make an impact.

The people involved in this fiasco obviously ignored the legal documents the couple had in place. What makes you think they would have paid any more attention to a marriage license than to any of the other legal documents already present?

The Tragically Flip | April 19, 2010 11:47 AM

Because this sort of thing doesn't usually happen to married couples? Because the County could not have gone to court describing the pair as "roommates"? Because the nursing home could not have claimed Harold had no family?

Many of the events in this tragedy are just untenable in the scenario where society had recognized the two men as legally married.

Under FEDERAL guidlines, the STATE of California is following what is called the Medical Assistance Reimbursement Act. If a person over the age of 55 who has received Medicaid (called Medi-Cal in California), which overseen by the county, the state takes any property including the home and all possessions of the recipient upon his death as reimbursement. IF there is a surviving spouse or domestic partner, that person is allowed to live in the home owned by the recipient ONLY with special permission--then it is sold upon their death. The state is allowed to seize any property for reimbursement of expenses if you go into a nursing home--it seems as if the state expected these gentlemen to have a receipt for every purchase and jumped the gun on a number of things.

Whether marriage is legal or not in a particular state, people should be using the language of marriage to refer to their spouses. THIS IS MY HUSBAND. My husband and I got married in Toronto, CANADA and our marriage is recognised in the State of NY, but marriage is not possible here. We applied for a refinancing and listed ourselves as married and I'm sure that's why the application was denied. Even our financial advisor when I listed him as my beneficiary as "spouse" initially listed me as single, until I insisted she correct it. People are slow on the uptake, but we need to continue to use the language whether the State recognises it or not.

mar·riage? ?[mar-ij]
1. the social institution under which a man and woman establish their decision to live as husband and wife by legal commitments, religious ceremonies, etc.

This is the definition of marriage, note that it states man and woman. Now I would like to state that I have no problem with gay men or women, its there life and they can live there life however they like. I'll say this just like I say it to my gay friends when the topic comes up. You don't call a apple an orange or a plane a car so why do you insist on calling a gay union a marriage? If the gay folk would have just called it what it is from the start there wouldn't be half of the people there are up in arms about it.

As for the article which were all talking about here, if those two guys did have all there legal ducks in a row like it says they did I hope the one guy sues the hell out of them and wins big. It will not make up for what has happened to him but at least it might make it where they think twice before they try something like that again to someone else.

Juston Thouron Juston Thouron | April 19, 2010 2:25 PM
mar·riage? ?[mar-ij] –noun 1. the social institution under which a man and woman establish their decision to live as husband and wife by legal commitments, religious ceremonies, etc.

This is the definition of marriage, note that it states man and woman. Now I would like to state that I have no problem with gay men or women, its there life and they can live there life however they like. I'll say this just like I say it to my gay friends when the topic comes up. You don't call a apple an orange or a plane a car so why do you insist on calling a gay union a marriage? If the gay folk would have just called it what it is from the start there wouldn't be half of the people there are up in arms about it.

Obviously grey you do have a problem with LGBT persons. It is obvious that you believe gay marriage to be less than equal to str8 marriages because you shape equality to fit yourself and then give it the appellation of law.

I am not going to take the time to list all the possible refutations of your point because your view is so full of holes it would take forever. And especially because you base your definition of marriage not on the dictionary but on your own personal beliefs.

Marriage has been defined/practiced/legally recognized in various ways throughout history (one man and multiple wives, etc....) and you know that and choose to ignore it. And that is where your comment betrays you (especially in pulling out a dictionary to make your point. Hey grey? A dictionary is not a Civil Code. Get it?)

Well, there are two sides to each story. I doubt that it is as written here. America is a democracy.

GriffonWriter | April 20, 2010 3:07 AM

"America is a democracy."

Yeah..... Right.

Winter BelViso | April 20, 2010 8:06 AM

Actually, America is a republic, not a democracy.

Of course you can say America is a Democracy, you're not GAY!

Sonny from the UK | April 30, 2010 1:03 PM

Yeah Right.

You maybe a democracy however your country gay rights records is abysmal for a country that calls it the Land of the free.

I am typing this email from the United Kingdom which Gays and Lesbians has more rights and freedom compare with you lot.

Annette Raftery | March 9, 2011 5:14 AM

Here in South Africa we are all legally married if we are a same sex couple - but as elsewhere people take a while to catch up and we also have discrimination, but thankfully it is not as bad as in the past. feel sorry for the US, seems rather backward to me in so many respects

Andrew Kane | January 22, 2011 4:06 AM

In a democracy, everyone's vote in national elections counts the same as everyone else's vote. That has never been true in the USA.

charles powell | April 20, 2010 1:58 PM

The CBC radio show As It Happens had a long discussion about this awful case which the Center for Lesbian Rights has has taken up as a cause, bless them!! The show was very sympathetic. Check their website for a podcast.

The definition of marriage has changed over the years. Once upon a time it was simply a man and woman getting together to have children, then religion got involved and redefined it, and now governments have redefined it yet again.

It is the latter definition that causes the problem as it gives rights to married couples that unmarried couples do not have. It is these rights that would have prevented much of what happened to Harold and Clay. This is why same-sex couples are demanding and should have the right to marriage, not so much "before God", as "before the state".

Adding the definition of marriage to prove a point is moot, as the definition that you used is subjective to personal preference, obviously.
I prefer a different definition myself. :o)

If you use google to search "define marriage", it comes up with numerous definitions on the first page, I didnt see any that were gender baised. I did see one from Princeton that I liked.
Marriage - a close and intimate union; "the marriage of music and dance"; "a marriage of ideas"
Although this does not directly reference human cultural relationships, it conveys the idea with a rather nice tone, IMO.
What fascinates me is that although there are countless definitions of marriage that are easily applicable to many things outside the human ceremony itself, society as a whole continues to debate wether or not the term itself should be applicable to gay couples. Music, dance, ideas, ingredients for spaggetti sauce, etcetera can all be deemed worthy of the term, but two humans of the same sex who are in love cannot. I find that extremely hypocritical. And sad. Again I encourage those narrow minded individuals who oppose the idea to evolve in thought and heart for the betterment of your fellow humans. I hope the gentlemans legal representation rakes the individuals involved across the coals so badly that anyone who attempts to use ignorance as an excuse for thier behavior will ensure they teach the lesson learned to their childrens children. Shame on them!

Terri Robbins | April 19, 2010 10:10 PM

Sonya, refreshing comments. Wonderful, actually.

Keith Hopkins | April 20, 2010 2:05 AM

As I was reading this thread... in my head I was composing the letter you had already written!

It seems to me, "False Imprisonment" and possibly "Kidnapping" could be added to the charges against the county and individuals who victimized these gentlemen.

Keith Godbout | April 21, 2010 6:42 AM

Thanks for the spirit of your comments, you really hit the mark well.


This article should make it evident that gay people *cannot* live their lives the way they want. Legally speaking, they have no protections that are afforded to straight people who chose to marry.

As well, it's impossible for Clay to "win big," since everything that was important to him has already been taken away. All he can get now is money.

Are we governing this country based on the dictionary these days?

Or the bible? (which defines marriage between a man and a harem of women)

Or the constitution?

Everyone should be equal. If gays can't get married, then everyone should have civil unions. Marriage certificates should be converted into civil union certificates and marriage certificates should come from your religious institution.

Government rights should come from the civil union documentation, which would mean people are EQUAL.

That's always been my opinion, do away with marriage entirely, from a legal standpoint at least. Allow people to get civil unions, which would be equivalent to how we see marriage now, with all the same rights etc. And if a couple wants to get together and call it marriage, let them call it marriage, if they want to call it union, let them call it union, if they want to call it the ultimate wrestling tag team match up, let them call it that. What it's called is between them, and nobody, NOBODY, else has a right to keep them apart. If your church doesn't believe gay marriage is right, that's fine, they don't have to perform the ceremony.

And I know what some people are possibly thinking, that two guys or two girls who aren't actually gay, but aren't interested in marriage could have a civil union just so they could get all the benefits. Well, so what. Straight couples get married all the time for the same reason.

I agree with you Kurt!!

You've got that dead-on correct, Kurt! Bravo~

the problem with your definition there is that its dated. definitions change as people change and we are a changing society whether you like it or not. not all things can be defined by Dictionary.com

Nancy Baker | April 19, 2010 6:22 PM

In 1898, the state of Texas changed the legal age to marriage for "women" from 6 to 12. So, my question, if you want to push for a so-called "traditional" definition of marriage, is do you want adult men marrying 6 year old girls or 12 year old girls? Otherwise, you may need to recognize that definitions, like laws, are subject to change.

? ?
a form of the possessive case of they used as an attributive adjective, before a noun: their home; their rights as citizens; their departure for Rome.

example: "its THEIR life and they can live THEIR life however they like."

* side note - obviously they can't.

You say to your friends that we don't call an apple an orange, or a plane a car. You are so right, but do you realize that there are many varieties of apples (Anna, Golden Delicious,Fuji...),oranges (Valencia, Washington Navel, seedless, Cara Cara...), planes (747, glider, jet...), and cars (Nissan, Ford, Model T, Hybrids...). Of course all of these items started off as there own independent selfs (apple,orange,car, plane), but as the years passed new varieties of these same items were made, without any hesitation being fought to stop them in our lives. We just accepted them. So why can't Marriage be a word that now has new varieties attached to it. Man and woman, Woman and Woman, Man and Man. The word Marriage could represent any of us in a committed union recognized by the government, and there would be less confusion for everyone (ex: Clay and Harold in the story above).
Just something I wanted to share with you, in case you ever want to use that example again with your friends. Because it really doesn't work for me.

Beth Prismall | April 19, 2010 9:37 PM

"This is the definition of marriage, note that it states man and woman. Now I would like to state that I have no problem with gay men or women, its there life and they can live there life however they like. I'll say this just like I say it to my gay friends when the topic comes up. You don't call a apple an orange or a plane a car so why do you insist on calling a gay union a marriage? If the gay folk would have just called it what it is from the start there wouldn't be half of the people there are up in arms about it."

Because gay people would like to get "married" to the person of their choice, without gender discrimination???????

Why can't we change the *official* definition of "marriage" to fit today's society? Why are YOU so defensive that it has to be only a MAN and a WOMAN who can make a lifetime commitment to each other? What is the difference between "gay union" and "marriage" EXCEPT for the gender requirements?? Which can very easily be changed, and give every person their basic human right to join their life to another persons'?

You DO clearly have a problem with gay marriage, so don't be so hypocritical and hide behind the guise of political correctness, yapping on about "your gay friends"

juliancolby | April 19, 2010 10:30 PM


Instead of posting meaningless definitions of marriage, perhaps you can take the time to support your gay friends in helping them secure the same rights you have, and that they deserve as tax paying citizens of the USA?

Actually marriage started out as a legal contract between two people (usually not the people getting married, ie the parents) that said that something (land, home, farm animal) was passed between males from one generation to the next. The only reason religion got involved was because the church was the main means of validating a legal claim locally. I would also point out as a point of contrast, that most marriages before 1800 would be considered not only illegal by today's standards but immoral.

Interesting, grey. I found the very definition you quote, yet you seem to have left out the second half of the definition of marriage (at http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/marriage):

1. a. the social institution under which a man and woman establish their decision to live as husband and wife by legal commitments, religious ceremonies, etc.
b. a similar institution involving partners of the same gender: gay marriage.

Not to mention there are 10 parts, 4 of which refer to marriage of persons, and 2 of which make no mention of gender.

Sad that you had to edit down the definition to "prove" your flawed argument.

Grey, while you have the dictionary out, please look up the definitions of their, there, and they're.

Hey Grey ... go f yourself you homophobic mf and while you are at it, take your dictionary definitions and stuff them up your ass.

Joey Tavares | April 20, 2010 7:00 AM

You know, 'strumpet' is defined as a harlot, but you don't hear it in common conversation anymore BECAUSE THE LANGUAGE HAS EVOLVED...

ya Luddite

Oh, Grey. If you didn't have a problem with gay men or women, you wouldn't have made this comment.

Also, dear, you used the wrong "there". Repeatedly. I believe you meant "they're".

I'm not sure where you got your definition of marriage, but it looks like you left off a few parts. Here's the one from Merriam-Webster:

Main Entry: mar·riage
Pronunciation: \?mer-ij, ?ma-rij\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English mariage, from Anglo-French, from marier to marry
Date: 14th century

1 a (1) : the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law (2) : the state of being united to a person of the same sex in a relationship like that of a traditional marriage b : the mutual relation of married persons : wedlock c : the institution whereby individuals are joined in a marriage
2 : an act of marrying or the rite by which the married status is effected; especially : the wedding ceremony and attendant festivities or formalities
3 : an intimate or close union

AND, BTW ... who decides these definitions? People ... people like you and me.

AND ... by the way, if you're going religious on us, that book was also written by people.

Get it?

WE are "they" and "them" and "those people". We're all in this together and need to figure out better ways to cooperate, not disagree.

What happened to that poor couple is despicable and should never have happened. Their love was no less than any straight couple; so why should they be treated differently???


Really? Miriam Webster is the end all? Once upon a time landowners were defined as wealthy white males and wives were defined as leagl property. Definitions change over time and it is about time this one did.

you left out the other definitions of marriage.... here is the FULL list

mar·riage? ?[mar-ij] Show IPA
1.a. the social institution under which a man and woman establish their decision to live as husband and wife by legal commitments, religious ceremonies, etc.

1 b. a similar institution involving partners of the same gender: gay marriage.

2. the state, condition, or relationship of being married; wedlock: a happy marriage.

3. the legal or religious ceremony that formalizes the decision of two people to live as a married couple, including the accompanying social festivities: to officiate at a marriage.

4. a relationship in which two people have pledged themselves to each other in the manner of a husband and wife, without legal sanction: trial marriage.

5.any close or intimate association or union: the marriage of words and music in a hit song.

6. a formal agreement between two companies or enterprises to combine operations, resources, etc., for mutual benefit; merger.

7. a blending or matching of different elements or components: The new lipstick is a beautiful marriage of fragrance and texture.

8. Cards. a meld of the king and queen of a suit, as in pinochle.Compare royal marriage.

9. a piece of antique furniture assembled from components of two or more authentic pieces.

10. Obsolete. the formal declaration or contract by which act a man and a woman join in wedlock.

So, as you see "marriage" has several meanings... and these two men were married.... period... and shame on those that tore them apart!

Well, Grey, obviously this dictionary definition needs to change. The world changes, and all of its people have to change with it in order to survive.

According to www.dictionary.com,
marriage : noun - has 10 entered meanings, and one of them is listed like this:

Obsolete meaning - the formal declaration or contract by which act a man and a woman join in wedlock.

This is your source's antiquated definition. According to http://dictionary.reference.com:

mar·riage ? ?/?mær?d?/ Show Spelled[mar-ij] Show IPA –noun 1. a. the social institution under which a man and woman establish their decision to live as husband and wife by legal commitments, religious ceremonies, etc. b. a similar institution involving partners of the same gender: gay marriage.

The word also means "intimate joining or blending."

Dictionaries are DEscriptive tools, not PREscriptive tools. The meaning of words is ultimately decided by their widespread use, not by any particular reference tool. Words change all the time, so you can't rely only on a dictionary to defend your political beliefs.

--an English teacher

Definitions change over time. Check your dictionary. Word become obsolete, take on new meanings, etc. This is political; pulling out your dictionary doesn't make marriage between a man and a women, it's politics. I am married, legally, to a man, therefore, I defy your definition, and yet, still exist.

David LeVack | April 19, 2010 8:00 PM

why so quick to blame the county? A non thinking non feeing machine?

Chuck made a valid point. If you want to insure this thing doesn't happen, getting your ire up is not the way, sorting the facts and setting precedents is.

Blaming the victims? Oh no. Just wondering how the county could swoop in and have authority over the life of these two without any reason.

It is right in the story, they gained authority from the court to take some assets of Harold's in order to pay medical bills. In a marital situation, Clay would've had recourse to retain some of the assets, but because they likely just had joint accounts, all of the assets were viewed by the county as Harold's.

Hello! They were gay. What don't you understand? You blamed them and you are part of the problem. A hateful catholic no doubt.

oh come on. please don't jump on the "you're XYZ" bandwagon. Charles asked 3 questions, none of them are directly homophobic. grow up please and add to the discussion.

the county probably took control of both their lives because they were considered unable to care for themselves - happens all the time to people regardless of sexual orientation.

Regardless What was left in the Will for Clay being power of attourny was dismissed it deminstares that even if its stated in a will we still have no say what happens in the end WHAT MAKES ME SICK IS THESE 2 GUYS WHERE TOGETHER FOR 20 YEARS AND CLAY DIDN'T EVEN GET A CHANCE TO SAY GOODBYE BECAUSE HE WAS KEPT AWAY

I am sorry, I am Catholic, and I find this appalling...you are bigot and hateful person yourself! Don't judge people based on their race, religion or sexual preference-you only add to the problem!

Then don't belong to an organization which takes the explicit position that we queers are deviant, sinful, and unentitled to equal rights. That's a bit like saying "I'm in the KKK, but I swear I'm not a racist."

blaming individuals for an institutional issue is unfair, especially in the case of religion... if a political party doesn't suit your politics, you leave it. if the bureaucracy of your FAITH doesn't suit you, are you supposed to just find a new one? catholics believe in two main comandments, and the first is to love god AND your neighbor. many of us try our best to do just that, and blaming all catholics for the bigotry of some is inappropriate and wrong... i am a very liberal catholic, just like almost everyone else in my church (and for that matter, my state, massachusetts). shouldn't it be our common goal to be fair to each other and judge people as individuals, regardless of what "groups" we may subscribe to?

So then does every member of the Catholic Faith get to decide for her/himself what it means to be a Catholic? Are the central tenants and teachings of the Catholic Church up to each and every individual member of the Church? If so you don't have a Church you have anarchy.

"if a political party doesn't suit your politics, you leave it. if the bureaucracy of your FAITH doesn't suit you, are you supposed to just find a new one?"

George W. Bush, an elected leader, was anti-gay rights, pro-covering up civilian atrocities. If you were a Republican and disagreed with his politics, you would have left the party, correct?

The Pope is an elected leader who is also against gay rights and has contributed to the cover up of atrocities carried out by his followers. How is this situation any different?

Faith and your religion are two different things. If your number one tenant is to love god and your neighbor, you shouldn't need a priest to tell you how to do it.

I don't consider myself Catholic, despite some water that was sprinkled on my face when I was very young. But I respect the previous poster's right to his beliefs.

Faith is, for many people, a very fundamental matter of how they define themselves, much more a part of personal identity than party affiliation. What you're asking this person to do does not, to my mind, seem equivalent to leaving the Republican party because of things that happened while GW Bush was President--to me, it's more like asking a person offended by Bush's actions to leave America.

Which, come to think of it, some Bush supporters did tell me to do on at least one occasion...

if the bureaucracy of your FAITH doesn't suit you, are you supposed to just find a new one?

Yes. Absolutely. Your choice of religion is a choice, after all. You're choosing one system of mythology over another. As a former catholic who has formally renounced the church, its leaders and its Evil ways, I challenge other catholics to do the same. Failing to do so makes them complicit in the crimes of the church and its leaders. Failing to do so means to approve of priestly abuse of children, institutional abuse of women, gays and other minorities. Failing to do so constitutes an endorsement of the church's position against condom use, making catholics responsible, in part, for the horrific spread of AIDS in Africa.

Yes, choosing to retain your membership in this Evil club, and worse, supporting it with your donations to the collection plate, make you complicit in its policies and crimes. Simple as that.

Belief is not volitional. You can't just change beliefs on a whim.

If you don't approve of the bureacracy of your faith, given that the chief architect of your faith is NOT infallible in worldly matters (your own doctrine says so), you work to have them removed or controlled.

I was raised in a Catholic home that taught love, acceptance, and peace for all (gays, blacks, straights, whites). Same stuff that Jesus preaches in the bible. I don't know which "Catholics" you are referring to. The Vatican? A bunch of child molesters? They do not define Catholicism in America.

let the two be a family, love and help one another - especially at a time like this. Just was reading this morning in Mathew 7. And we all should not be hypocritial. I have my ideals of what a marriage is, but God and love comes before my human understanding of what a healthy union ought to be. So, instead of saying who can and can't support one another, lets make sure these two are stable...then LOVINGLY discuss what a family might look like in a "perfect world". K?...thanks for reading.

Seriously? Do you not realize how hypocritical you sound? Not ALL Catholics are that way. I'm sure you don't like being judged, so don't judge anyone else. You really help us gays look bad.

Indeed. Numerically, there are more Catholics who support gay rights than there are gays who support gay rights. (And, of course, there are many gay Catholics.) Don't spurn allies!

I'm gay and I'm a christian and tech catholic(although I don't follow it) Just because some people chose to use religion to support hate and ignorance doesn't mean all are like that. You can be a catholic and still love people.

Most folks of traditional religious backgrounds have no acceptance and little tolerance for alternative lifestyles. They preach in your face about what is morally right and then live a life in opposition to their publicly stated views, opinions and beliefs. Take the Catholic priests who are molesting boys. Take any Christian faith and listen to them in church preaching about how we should love our neighbors, who then go home or to breakfast and gossip about the neighbors and speak libelously against them.

These men should have had no interference from anyone. They had their affairs in order, had legal paperwork in place. It was all discounted.


very well said thank you

Kimberly Frantz | April 24, 2010 6:06 AM

Cindy, I cited the constitution, the dictionary, and the Word of God in *support* of humanity and dignity for Harold and Clay. Search this verse (or April 22, 2010 1:51 PM) and you will find my comment:

Do not exploit the poor because they are poor and do not crush the needy in court, for the LORD will take up their case and will plunder those who plunder them. He who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and he who gives gifts to the rich—both come to poverty. ~ Proverbs 22:22-23,16

I believe the (long-standing) critical problem is that people don't want to face their *own* sins; instead, it is easier to focus on what is wrong with every one else! But Jesus warns against this,

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.' But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.' I tell you that this man, *rather* than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." ~ Luke 18:9-14

This verse applies equally today (along with the lower-case definition of pharisee as hypocritical and self-righteous), but who would call himself a pharisee? Maybe they have adopted another term...

Pharisee - from "parush," Christian - "Like Christ"

By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. ~ Matthew 7:16-20

To receive when others reject, to treat each one with true respect; To shield when others throw stones, to be with one who’s all alone; To think and choose to see the very best, to live like this is nothing less than to possess the mind of Christ...

To build up when others tear down, to seek the lost until they’re found; To give grace where it’s needed most, rejecting pride when others boast; To sacrifice my all without regret, to live like this is nothing less than to possess the mind of Christ...

The mind of Christ, my highest goal; The Lord’s delight, the desire of my soul; The Father’s heart will always guide my life, if I will have in me the mind of Christ. ~ TRUTH

She takes no thought for her own needs
Never heard her say, "Hey what about me?"
When she works few eyes see
She's learned life from the servant King
She knows love is a giving thing!

He walks the night street in his Sunday shoes
Handing out blankets to folks sleeping on pews
Expects no glory or thank yous
Cause he's learned life from the mercy King
He knows love is a giving thing!

Life should be lived walking on our knees
Closing the gap between want and need
It's more blessed to give than it is to receive
Gotta learn that love is a giving thing!!
Gotta learn that love is a giving thing!!

He laid down in the bed that we made
We gave Him sorrow, He gave Himself away
Took our sins to His grave
He gave life as a Savior King!!!
He knew love was a giving thing!!!
~ TRUTH and living proof ;)

God loves the weary when they're too weak to try
He feels their pain (2 Corinthians 5:21)
He knows their shame (Hebrews 12:2)
He cries with those who cry (Isaiah 53:5)
He won't give up or walk away when other people do
Cause God loves people more than anything
~ Point of Grace

We must look past the crimes
To see the source of the rage
Let us open our minds
While there is still light of day
Time to erase the line
Dividing hearts from hope
In a world that believes the lie
How can the broken cope?

Help them rebuild, rebuild their lives
Lives we all need, need us to try
Try to show hope, hope to feel safe
Safe from the scourge, the source of the rage
Lord help them heal, heal their lives

????? ~ kimberly fran†z

Your religious leaders would back what happened to these men. What you say is all very well - but we all vote with our feet.

Ya I'm catholic too and don't care who marries - why do u gotta be so hateful on Catholics? I only care about whom I'm married to. I hear that anti-religious talk from some pro gay marriage folk and think 'wake up! If you want to promote your view, you have to think one thing: Win At All Costs - smile and nod at your hated enemy if it means WINNING. that's the sausage-making we call politics. And this 'catholics/religious are bigots' does not forward your cause.' Probably 80% of the population could care less about anything but when they hear "if youre not with us, you're a bigot!" it really turns people off and whereas they were apathetic before, now they are entrenched against, and prop 8 passes, etc etc. You lose. So remember, Win At All Costs.

Now why say that, I'm Catholic. That was hateful to me. That wasn't necessary!

I find the hateful Catholic comment a little rude. Here you're talking about discrimination and hypocrisy and you say something like that? Damage your own argument much? I have no problem with gays being married because what another person does with their life and their affections isn't my business. What do I care who any one marries? I have my husband. Y'all go find your own mate be they male, female, or a pink and purple duck! But as I don't dismiss you, your thoughts and beliefs please reciprocate and leave my religion alone!

Easy. Legally they are strangers. The state of CA and teh federal government do not recognize same sex marriages that would have prevented this from happening. Hence the need for marriage equality over religious preference.

The article stated they had all the papers needed ie power of attorney, medical directives and such so this shouldn't have been an issue

The legal documents they had in place trumped what the County did - and it has nothing to do with being married. They had the proper medical directives in place and the County ignored them. Shameful - but it all goes down to how just a couple of people can chose to ignore legal documents and assert their power. I do wonder how any of them involved can look into the mirror!

Patty Ashworth | April 20, 2010 1:39 PM

There is also the disturbing fact that they were older people who might not have had family close by, so they were doing the best to still live in at home, instead of a care facility. So it's not just gay rights here, but also older age rights. Could they come into any 2 persons lives and seperate them? It does happen all the time. It's made the news because it includes a gay couple. I don't understand why they had to sell everything. Were there hospital bills? And people in hospitals are allowed visitors. There is a lot that really doesn't add up in this story. CA needs to stop this. Their financally situation for the state needs more attention than harassing older people.

Actually, the State of CA does recognize same-sex marriages. But as long as Prop 8 is on the books, there remains some legal ambiguity, and hospitals, counties, and the state can get away with this kind of behavior.

Time to overturn Prop 8 and gain full legal marriage equality for all us gays.

(Yes, I'm legally married in the state, but not sure for how much longer.)

J Milligan | April 18, 2010 8:03 PM

You may be surprised to find out that in many states, when someone goes into a home, even if they are paying for it out of the money they have saved, and with the insurance they have paid for, they are not able to sell any property they may own; in CASE they run out of funds so the state can sell it. We have a family memeber who built their home decades ago, never had a mortage, paid all the taxes and worked an entire lifetime amassing a nice size nest egg. She became ill, had to go into a nursing home...a very nice one, with people she knew her whole life either working there or also living there. Her home sits, full of her things, but no people...no one is allowed to move into it, some caretaking is allowed but nothing can be removed without the state saying it is ok. Over 15 years ago she signed the house over to her two sons, just so that when she passed, they would already own it and could do as they pleased with it. The state said she tried to hide assets, and will not let the boys dispose of the home. IF her money should run out, then whatever her insurance does not cover, the state will sell the home to recover the cost. sucks...but it is true

The same way the county can do it to all people not in a marriage or civil union. The same thing can happen to any combination living together.

Pubic...that should be public. And obviously there is some information missing from this story because nobody is treated like this without some reason.
I know from having friends who were abused by their spouse that if the spouse is suspected of being the one who injured the patient, they will not be allowed to visit them. They do not say that either individual was suspected of abusing the other, but that is the only thing I can think of to keep them separated.
If they were unable to take care of themselves and had no family, the county would have been within their rights to gain control of the assets and auction off their property to pay for their medical care.
Whatever the reason, this is a very sad situation.

exsurferboi | April 19, 2010 12:10 PM

This would be true if they were heterosexual, and if there were spousal abuse suspected, but it is not true that spousal abuse is the only reason partners are kept apart. It is historically common that same sex partners are kept apart in hospital situations if they do not have medical power attorney. I have in the past had my partner kept out of the hospital I was being kept in and she was NOT suspected of abuse. She was only suspected of being a same sex partner. We were advised not only do we need legal medical power of attorney but to keep our own copy on us in case something happens again. There are many questions I would like answered so we can better learn from and support Clay in this situation.

lol pubic assistance!

Often when someone is put in a nursing home the home, bcoming their guardian, has the legal right to liquidate their estate to collect for that persons care. This happens even when that person has been placed against their will.

Tara Smith | April 18, 2010 2:41 PM

Charles, from the way I read it, they were renting. Do you pay taxes on a rental in CA? I don't know.. This whole case is a tragedy.

i think that's an assumption, tara. the article didn't say whether they rented or owned the home.

it also doesn't say whether or not the home or any of their financial assets were held in joint tenancy with right of survivorship either.

still a sad case, but perhaps not as cut-and-dried as we'd like to believe.

Tiffany, that article does say that they were renting. The county workers then terminated Clay and Harold's lease and surrendered the home they had shared for many years to the landlord.

Read the story, the house was leased; they didn't own it.

"Holes left out"? I think you meant that perhaps there are holes IN the story. Yes, of course these gay men had to have done something wrong in order to be treated this way. After all, this is America where red tape, semantics, and bureaucracy never lead to this kind of injustice, right? These guys had THREE strikes against them: Gay, old and in bad health. This is why stories about rape don't mention what the women were wearing when they were attacked -- IT DOESN'T MATTER!

it says in the article that they were leasing the home and that the county took it upon themselves to terminate the lease and return the home to the landlord.

This is strange. I live in Sonoma County - it's country, but still the Bay Area. And CA domestic partner laws are equivalent to marriage for State purposes (although the article doesn't say they ever registered as partners).

Also, being so close to San Francisco, this kind of stuff usually get high visibility and LOTS of noise - and this is the first I've heard of it.

I'm guessing there's another side to this story...

I have a different question, along the same lines:

I feel like this is the part of the message that should be targeted: Based on their medical directives alone, Clay should have been consulted in Harold's care from the first moment.

So my question is, why were basic medical procedures not followed in reading the medical directives?

Mr. Merrill, You're comment reminds of my fathers reaction to the Chicago Police riots in '68. "Dad, why are they attacking unarmed people"? " Son, they must have done something wrong to deserve it! After all the police are here to protect us"!
There are no holes in this story Mr. Merrill, just your blind trust in the System. Those of you who voted Yes on prop 8 are directly responsible for this. Your predjudice and intolerance are an affront to humanity. The fact that this happened in Sonoma County sickens me. At 8:00 AM on 5/1/2010, all bigoted, mean spirited, homophbic, intolerant folks are ordered to go to the Pacific Ocean and stand facing the surf. At 8:30, begin walking west and continue on a westerly path until you reach the Promised Land. Don't forget to write! That being said My heart goes out to this couple. You have been vilified and victimized by a nation that has chosen to ignore a seperation of Church and State. Shame on the rest of us for not trying shut this down, even if it meant having the snot beat out of us by the local authorities. What have we become? This used to be a free country. Liberty and justice for ALL. No justice served here. Just a huge black eye for those who supported this and those of us who did nothing to stop it. The Fundamentalist Right MUST FALL!

Huh? I am one of the few legally married in California and donated a large sum to No on Prop 8. How did I get targeted on this thread as somebody's bigoted father? I was just questioning what authority the county had. The orginal title to the article stated the county took their house.

This is the original title to the Kendal article claiming the county sold their home.

"Sonoma County CA separates elderly gay couple and sells their home."


Bad news: this wasn't the only elder case woefully and horribly mishandled by County staff.

Good news: A trusted source has indicated that the County's "Public Guardian" office has since undergone a major change of personnel since these dreadful incidents occurred to make sure nothing like this ever happens again.

More good news: Paul Payne of the Press Democrat sent an email to me this morning asking me for contact info for Greene v Sonoma County case. I'm not directly involved, but have been hounding the paper and forwarding the story to eveyrone I know since Thurs Apr 15th. I have been in contact with Mr. Greene's attorney and was able to forward her contact info to Paul.

Now it's time to focus on finding ways to support Clay Greene. There is an effort underfoot to start a bank account for donations for Clay and organizing to show up in court on the first day of the trial (not likely to be July 16 - the lawyer tells me this is a date to set the start date).

Property taxes couldn't be owed on a leased property, at least by the tenants. It is possible that if they were receiving state aid that the state could sell property.

Based upon my experiences as both caregiver and listening to medicare counseling, it is all too common to place 88 year old individuals in nursing homes. The "state" can be convinced that based upon age alone let alone.... frail health.... one cannot care fore ones self. It is also way too common that couples be they hetero-sexual or homo-sexual to be deprived of each others company "for their own good" rather than being placed together.

Example... A couple in their 90's were placed in our facility... They were placed in separate wings based upon "needs". He continued to look for his wife of more than 70 years and was finally restrained (tied to his chair, bed etc..)., until he lost his ability to walk... when he was unable to look for her and spend time with her and be with her... he died within 3 weeks. This couple that was just fine at home, but too old.....

Is this really sexual orientation prejudice or is this age discrimination, and devaluation based upon age?

Just a thought.

It makes no difference if you are a man and a woman in marriage when it comes to this situation. Once one is put in long term care and you owe them money they can take it ALL. If you have children and put everything in their name(s) they can't touch it. It is VERY costly of thousands of dollars per month to be in a facility. I don't agree with them doing it but that's the way it works. Unfortunately!!

Mike Miller | April 19, 2010 7:08 PM

I agree with you. This story is too one sided and much seems to be left out. There could have been back taxes or child support from a previous marraige that resulted in their possesions being autioned off.

Joseph Conner | April 19, 2010 7:30 PM

Ultimately that does not matter. The bottom line is these two people were not given the rights that Heterosexual’s would have been given. Any two people who have cared for each other for 20 damn years should be treated as married.

From what I gather they declared the men incompetent without any next of kin. The home they shared was rented. When you are declared incompetent the state has the right to seize your personal property and sell it at auction to pay for your care. what the county did in this case shows the legnths they will go to. The state representative that allowed these men's property to be sold at auctions should be brought up on civil charges as well. Ignoring a living will, powers of attorney by a state official is a dereliction of duty. Further the manners in which they conducted their duties would require that they swear on affidavits, thereby committing perjury on top of it.

A lot of wholes in this story.
1. Why was Clay removed from the home and put in a separate nursing home?
2. When did they finally seek legal counsel?
3. The minute the hospital chose to ignore the Medical Directive, someone should have found an attorney and called the police.
4. That goes along with ignoring the POA and having Clay removed from the hospital. Especially this one. Don't all hospitals have visiting hours?
5. I wasn't married to my parents but had medical directive for both.
6. Unless the person was in ICU, the hospital can't keep you from visiting during visiting hours.
7. If they were in ICU, all you have to say is that I am a family member.

This is, of course, outrageous. I hope that it at least gets other couples in similar situations motivated to get their personal affairs in order. I'm assuming that this wouldn't have happened if both men would've had papers drawn up granting Power of Attorney to the other for all medical and financial decisions in situations like this. It's beyond sad that they had to go through this ordeal and I hope Clay is successful with his legal actions, even though it won't give him back the time he lost with Harold.

Protect yourself people! Don't let this happen to you, too!

I'm not really replying, per se, to a specific comment. I am replying to the whole story. I am very sad that this has to happen, in this day and age, that two people who love each other and are obviously committed for life, are treated so badly be a system that is supposed to protect them, and did not.
I live in Canada, but I am under no illusions that this, too, could happen to me. The fact that they crossed all their i's and dotted all t's is even more upsetting. In the words of Pierre Trudeau, a Canadian Prime Minister, "the state has no business in the bedroom". I think it is appalling that just because the two were of the same gender, they were denied their human rights. Those involved should hang their heads in shame, even if they were only acting "on orders". Especially if they were "only acting on orders"!

Christian Rowland Hadsell | April 21, 2010 9:29 AM

I agree on some level. Legally there has to be an excellent reason for this outrage and should be looked into further. Morally? This is all wrong.
Really there are no excuses for what these horrible heartless people had done to an elderly couple. This is just evil. The home would be one thing if there were major bank/credit issues, MAYBE! But their whole life they had collected and gained over 20 years? Unless asset's that had recently been gained through credit, could possibly be repossessed. Who had the authority to overturn what had legally been set by this couple? What happened to their rights under California State Law? Where did all this money go? We aren't stupid. Someone gained from their greed and rotten spirit.
It's pure evil to have kept them apart as well, when all they wanted to do was finish their golden years together with love.
The poor man died from stress and heartbreak!
I'd like to punch the people in the face for their wrong doing. Only since the str8 community deems it ok to wrong us in every way.
We all know Sonoma County as a very conservative uptight(although very quaint)place. But really? Wake up puritans. It's 2010 you troglodytes. Doesn't sound like these people are church goers.
That's not "Christian" like at all.

Thank you for keeping the focus on the main issue of the story. It saddens me that, as you mentioned, someone could be so heartless and judgmental. Maybe the people who bought the property could begin to return it to Clay? I lived in Sonoma County and it's not much different from the rest of the United States. If you are different than you are most likely looked upon as being defective. People who sleep walk through their lives rarely have the inclination or courage to wake up. Unfortunately these same people can do horrific things while remaining brain dead.

Gilberto P Filho | April 21, 2010 9:39 AM

Agreed! It seems something is missing there. What would be the interest of the county to go after these two senior citizens? If nothing is really missing then we should be scared and getting ready to fight!

apparently there were also accusations of domestic abuse...

it is interesting how different people angle the story differently. I don't know all the details, but there is definitely more to this than what this story portrays.

Juston Thouron Juston Thouron | April 17, 2010 4:50 PM

I don't have the words to describe my feelings about this. There is no expletive filthy enough, no angry words angry enough. Outrageous seems weak, and inhuman does not accurately describe the concerted efforts it took for three different agencies to commit multiple atrocities against Clay and Harold. Sociopathy comes closest, but it is too clinical and assumes a treatable illness on the part of the perpetrators.

This is what our future looks like. We will be facing these kinds of injustices even after we reach equality. We will have to use legal remedies to hold government agencies accountable, just as African Americans have had to for the last 45 years. We have a long way to go to gain our equality, we have even further to go to feel equal.

If Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist had been able to ride off into the sunset together, they could have faced the same end.

Musicmaker | April 18, 2010 8:48 AM

Juston Thouron said:

Sociopathy comes closest, but it is too clinical and assumes a treatable illness on the part of the perpetrators.

Actually, the consensus among researchers is that psychopathy (sometimes referred to as sociopathy) is completely untreatable. Psychopathy is a neurobiological disorder whose hallmark is a complete lack of empathy: psychopaths do not experience remorse for wrongdoing, and engage in pathological violation of the rights of others. There is no therapy, medication, surgery, or other practice of any kind which has been demonstrated to have a positive effect upon this condition. Therapy merely teaches psychopaths to become better mimics of human emotion, which, in turn, enables them to better manipulate their victims. About 1 in every 100 people is a psychopath.

Source: Without Conscience, by Dr. Robert D. Hare (creator of the PCL-R, a diagnostic tool widely considered to be the "gold standard" for identifying psychopaths)

Juston Thouron Juston Thouron | April 18, 2010 2:07 PM

Actually Musicmaker, the consensus that psychopathy and sociopathy are indistinguishable is not total, and if you read my statement again you will notice I used the latter.

David T. Lykken proposes psychopathy and sociopathy are two distinct kinds of antisocial personality disorder. He believes psychopaths are born with temperamental differences such as impulsivity, cortical underarousal, and fearlessness that lead them to risk-seeking behavior and an inability to internalize social norms. On the other hand, he claims sociopaths have relatively normal temperaments; their personality disorder being more an effect of negative sociological factors like parental neglect, delinquent peers, poverty, and extremely low or extremely high intelligence. Both personality disorders are the result of an interaction between genetic predispositions and environmental factors, but psychopathy leans towards the hereditary whereas sociopathy tends towards the environmental.[39]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sociopathy

Also consider:

1) http://www.nowpublic.com/health/psychopathy-antisocial-personality-disorder-diagnostic-confusion
2) http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=6779628

amandaisfun | April 17, 2010 4:51 PM

I'm no fancy pants attorney, but shouldnt they have registered as domestic partners? Wouldn't that have helped them out here? It seems a lot easier to do than play legal catch-up after the fact.

Jane Laplain | April 17, 2010 8:27 PM

Youre' right amanda. Stupid old fags. Thought power of attorney, a will, and explicit medical directives woulda been enough to have their wishes respected!! How dumb can you be?? Who cares that registering as domestic partners would probably have screwed with their meagre social security benefits! Serves 'em right!

Now now, Jane, I'm sure she didn't mean to say that. It's just that they live in California, so they could have become domestic partners, or gotten legally married during that little 6-month window in 2008. No one's blaming them for not doing that or saying it serves them right, but I am also a bit puzzled as to why they didn't take advantage of these opportunities.

Given that the county authorities ignored the existing legal protections that this older couple took and felt comfortable with, who's to say that the same officials wouldn't just ignore the protections that a domestic partnership affords? After all, they wouldn't be the first couple with a domestic partnership to encounter ignorance or hostility from local officials.

And even if they had gotten married during the window, who's to say the perpetrators would even have paid attention to *that*? These people don't give a damn about our relationships, legally recognized or not, and they'll do whatever they want regardless of whatever protections we might have.

If I'm fiftytwo and my marriage has been taken away from me, and mind you not unexpectedly, what makes you think an 80 year old gay man would think this cruel society would honor their domestic partnership? There are people working as we speak to take away my second marriage after thay took away the first. Try to think if an 80 year old gay
couple would believe that this cruel society we live in would actually let them get married in their lifetime. I'm married today but I don't feel confident enough to count on that alone.

amandaisfun | April 19, 2010 10:52 PM

Well, to be precise, they don't give a damn about *this* relationship because legally there isn't one. That's the whole point of domestic partnerships, or the brief window of opportunity to have gotten married before Prop 8.

With a domestic partnership or a valid pre-Prop 8, even if the state of CA (note-this is not a federal case) doesn't have a leg to stand on legally when the shit hits the fan and goes to trial.

Jane Laplain | April 18, 2010 3:06 PM

If I had to guess, they were probably worried about compromising their social security benefits, given their age. My mother and her longtime boyfriend are similiarly worried. They had planned to marry at one point and then later realized once the age of social security started approaching that what they would have been eligible to receive together would have been only a little more than half of what they would qualify for separately. These are not astronomical figures we're talking about, and they still work because they aren't yet ready to live on fixed incomes. I'm thinking that the age of this elderly gay couple played a similar role in their deciding not to register. Or perhaps, they had no interest in registering for a "domestic partnership-light" figuring they had already made sufficient legal arrangements. At any rate, I hope everyone here takes note. Regardless of how we feel about how important gay marriage was as a political issue in the first place, the cost of LOSING the fight now will be devastating. Behold what awaits same sex couples even with powers of attorney and wills at hand. Think the backlash will stop here?

amandaisfun | April 19, 2010 10:55 PM

The Federal government doesn't recognize any same sex marriage or domestic partnership, so how would that effect social security benefits?

Jane Laplain | April 18, 2010 3:18 PM

If I had to guess, they were probably worried about compromising their social security benefits, given their age. My mother and her longtime boyfriend are similiarly worried. They had planned to marry at one point and then later realized once the age of social security started approaching that what they would have been eligible to receive together would have been only a little more than half of what they would qualify for separately. These are not astronomical figures we're talking about, and they still work because they aren't yet ready to live on fixed incomes. I'm thinking that the age of this elderly gay couple played a similar role in their deciding not to register. Or perhaps, they had no interest in registering for a "domestic partnership-light" figuring they had already made sufficient legal arrangements. At any rate, I hope everyone here takes note. Regardless of how we feel about how important gay marriage was as a political issue in the first place, the cost of LOSING the fight now will be devastating. Behold what awaits same sex couples even with powers of attorney and wills at hand. Think the backlash will stop here? This should also be a wake up call for ALL SENIORS of any orientation, especially in California!

Well, I got married to my partner in that "little window" when SF was giving out marriage licenses and guess what? They were nullified. It was a horrendous emotional roller coaster that ended in heartbreak. Again, these people got married and were put through this same emotional turmoil. This time, they were told that they were the exception to the rule but there would be no more.

I wouldn't register as a domestic partner because I felt it was legitimizing that separate but unequal institution.

Rob Podlogar | April 18, 2010 12:13 PM

Jane - "Stupid Old Fags?". I hope your friends and family read your response. It is easy to make bold statements via the internet since a person can hide behind their computer.

She was being sarcastic, Rob. It wasn't intended as a slur.

amandaisfun | April 19, 2010 10:49 PM

Domestic partnerships and marriages aren't exaclty 100% the same in CA, but I'm not sure the differences would have mattered in this case.

Look- everyone, cis, trans, straight, queer-needs to take care of themselves. I mean, if this was an elderly hetero couple living together, would this still have happened? I realize how cynical many of us in the LGBT community are about marriage, but two elderly gay men living together without any legal relationship (I'm like 99.9% sure CA doesn't recognize common law marriages entered into while in the state-it does recognize out of state common law marriages) is an invitation for disaster. I'm not a lawyer, so I don't know if it would have helped, but they should've gotten a registered domestic partnership, at least to cross all their ts and dot their is.

Margaretpoa Margaretpoa | April 17, 2010 5:20 PM

Yeah....I'm just too outraged to make an intelligent, cogent remark. Thanks for bringing this to my attention though.

I hear you Margaretpoa!
All I can say is we are the Home of the Brave - but not really the Land of the Free!

This Salon report says they leased (not owned) a home and it was returned to the landlord. I want to know more of the details as I am 76. I know if I had to go the hospital my Medicare and AARP plan F would cover the ambulance.doctor and hospitalization. The county wouldn't be nosing around in my business and my partner would be allowed to visit as we are married. There is more to this unfortunate story than meets the eye.


John R. Selig | April 17, 2010 6:44 PM

This is nothing short of appalling! When people ask why LGBT people are fighting for our rights, share this story with them. Thanks for sharing Kate.

John Gravener | April 17, 2010 7:29 PM

I would also suggest that we find out who the initial judge was and if he or she is elected to the bench. This case should be used against any re-election campaign.

Philip Sebastian | April 18, 2010 12:01 PM

Yes names, we want names of all the filthy thieves involved in this! Scum! Everyone of them. Nazi Scum.

Outrageous. Just outrageous. For the gay Americans who can't escape to better cities and countries who actually want them, I hope they fight back against this trash.

What ever lawyers represented the County in court need to be disbarred.

Why disbarred...should all lawyers that defend someone or group that you don't agree with, be disbarred? That doesn't really make sense.

They deserve sanction of some kind because they ignored legally valid documents. That's not making an argument, that's overt-turning documents meant to protect people who have no other source of legal protection.

Saturday Evening
April 17th, 2010
Bethesda, Maryland

Dear Ms. Kendell,

I covered this story as well; [http://brodylevesque.blogspot.com/2010/04/brodys-scribbles-greene-v-county-of.html] and have received a tremendous amount of emails regarding this deplorable situation. The majority of the mail runs along the lines of an extremely arsed sentiment.

I have asked the Director Of Communications, Ms. Calla Rongerude at National Centre for Lesbian Rights in San Francisco, California, to please keep me advised as I intend to follow this tragedy as it unfolds in court.

I find the actions of the County Of Sonoma despicable.


Brody Levesque

I just submitted this as a headline story for CNN.
they informed they are reviewing the issue to see if it is real, and will contact me soon to let me know if they will run the story!

I have submitted this as a headline story to CNN who have informed that they are currently reviewing my submission to verify that it is a real story, and if it is newsworthy.

Unfortunately they are not Tiger Woods or Jesse James and CNN will not likely find it newsworthy.
I would try to send it to Rachel Maddow or Keith Olberman I think they would cover it.

actually I recieved an email this morning that they are in discussions at CNN to run the story.

Why are we hearing about it now, months after it became a fait acompli?

There needs to be a national clearinghouse that LGBT folks can turn to to spread the word of such steamrollering of LGBT individuals and families.

This could have been one of those 'happy ending' stories, rather than yet another example of bureaucrats bending the rules to the detriment of LGBT folks.

My question exactly! For once, I wish I could hear about something when there was time left to FIGHT. I know it's not the fault of anyone specific, but I just WISH we could hear about these things before they were a fait accompli.

What's wrong with people?! These were two human beings whose life together didn't harm anyone.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | April 17, 2010 11:30 PM

What is part of this story is the county, but this is more than that, being older they likely did not have internet access. They were just "two more old men no one cared about" which is why we are fortunate to even hear of it after the fact. Unless wealthy, they are among the many thousands of elderly who lose their options at the hands of their state. Even more important, did they have an active lawyer on speed dial vigorous and motivated enough to insure their rights were respected? Many couples lack this foresight, particularly as they age. Or worse yet, their lawyer retires or dies. Many of these same people become interesting to their family when they are helpless.

The greatest single reason I have "off shored" my 81 year old partner and myself is to avoid meddling in medical affairs and financial matters by people who will only be interested when they can line their own pockets. This is hardly unique to gay people and happens in all families. It is a whole system of disenfranchisement. Oh, but the wife would be allowed to go to the same nursing home if she wanted to. What a treat! How many of you have visited a county nursing home? Even a private one is ghastly!

When it was suggested to me that I place my father "for my own good" in a nursing home (Alzheimer's diagnosis) I put the psychiatrist in his place immediately. "Recommend one nursing home in metro Chicago that does not smell of stale urine and I will consider it." He died a year later comfortably in my home and was a daily joy.

We reside in a country now where I can care for my partner with full rights to make medical and care decisions for him, and him for me. No rafts of paperwork are required. That peace of mind and Asian respect for elders means everything to me.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | April 17, 2010 11:40 PM

Oh, small correction Kate. In your title you say that their "home" was sold when it would really have been their household goods and personal belongings "surrender their lease to their landlord." Losing access to the familiar was worse.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | April 18, 2010 12:21 AM

Kate, if I may give another example visit my posting in the archives of October 14, 2008 entitled: "Just When You Think You Are Immune to Heartbreak" Our bones can be picked over anywhere.

Elizabeth Reiher | April 18, 2010 10:19 AM

What country is that?

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | April 20, 2010 8:44 AM

Elizabeth, I and my partner live in Thailand facing the sea on the Gulf. I researched carefully for weather, earthquakes, tsunami possibility, quality hospitals and useful infrastructure. Chonburi province won hands down.

Letter to newspaper sent.

This story is going viral on Facebook.

We are all outraged.

Eric Payne | April 18, 2010 7:56 AM

Maggie Gallagher, may someone drive a wooden stake through your heart, sprinkle your twitching body with salt and garlic and, finally, drag you out into the sunlight.

THIS is why marriage is important. THIS is the story that needs to be told, and retold, every time Gallagher or one of her cronies mouths what the homosexually oriented already know to be untrue - the myth of "certain legal protections" we can make for ourselves.

Last night, my spouse and I attended a production of Little Shop of Horrors at a theater, roughly 40 miles from our home. We had seats in the second row; the entire first row was filled with men... it was a small theater, with the center orchestra section being only 8 seats across. Turns out, they were all gay and all friends - 4 couples who attend the theater together.

They were also all over the age of 50. Of 16 seats in the front two rows, 10 of us were old, coupled fags. At one point during the performance, one of the guys in that front row simply puts his arm around the shoulder of his spouse - no big deal... to anyone. At another point in the performance, I get sucker-punched by a jolt of angina; Bill, who's come to recognize the sounds I make when one hits, has my bottle of nitro fished out of my pants pocket even before I can say anything to him, then sits there, holding my right hand in both of his (he's sort of half-twisted in his seat) while the explosive under my tongue does its work.

I don't know if the performance of the troupe last night was as impressive as I believe it to be because they actually were impressive, or because of the two, momentary, public displays of affection that were just unimportant to the other patrons of the theater.

It is my deepest desire that, by the time he's done, Clay has bankrupted Sonoma County and the two nursing homes involved.

My heart aches for Clay. What the county did is unconscionable... I'm just too shocked to express what I think right now but I hope this story gets the coverage it deserves and that justice is served.

SHAME on Sonoma County.

planetspinz planetspinz | April 18, 2010 1:29 AM

Post this on the White House facebook page and tell Obama to do more than write empty memos http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#!/WhiteHouse?ref=ts

OH, forget him! He isn't going to do a damned thing for you!

This is horrible and I hope something is done about it. I can't believe in this day and age the local government got away with this. This is very sad indeed.

This story is outrageous. How can two consenting adults, in California, lose so many of their rights? If a will, power of attorney, and medical directive naming each other are in place, and if registering as a domestic partner is not recognized in one's county, what are one's protections?

I am personally outraged and completely disgusted on how this man was treated. How dare they? How gave them such rights to violates these mens lives. They cost one mans life and the other being treated as if he was a prisoner for a crime he didn't commit. How dare they steal their lives and possessions. This truly, truly disturbs me on every level of not only common sense but in all sense of humanity. Do these people have hearts or are they just shells with no souls. But they should be happy, they have achieved in destroying yet another happy life. Thanks Sonoma County...at least I know that if I wanna die then this is the place to be....and can be assisted in doing as well and possibly being forced.

Just a head's up here? I recently dealt with a son who was effectively cut off from his own mother via the legal manueverings of a nursing home. (I.E., they're not just pulling this shit on gays.) Some nursing homes don't stop at just admitting a patient. They pursue the patient and that patient's estate, and will stoop quite low to attain the whole kit and ka-boodle. I don't know if it's greed, or cuts in Medi-care funding that causes it? But in recent years, some of these nursing homes have harnessed the legal moxie to ensnare a patient financially and this requires eliminating any 'pretenders' to the patients affections AND financial resources - even if it is just a social security check. In the instance most familiar to me; the son was hospitalized for a drug problem when the mother he resided with was sent to a nursing home. The nursing home nearly succeeded in owning her home and selling it to pay her bills while under her care. Esssentially, some of these nursing homes care more about being your power of attorney than being your care-giver. They prey on people who, in our society, slip thru the cracks of the traditional family of modest means and resources. Gays are fair prey in their eyes, but so are others who are emotionally fractured, financially compromised, or geographically (and emotionally?) distant. ... Kate; it's good, kind, and wise that you wrote about this. Recent advances in healthcare mean nothing if this shameful sorrow is allowed to become commonplace.

SO - very true. Thanks for the post of lucid observation, Mr Bloor.

I am gay *and* I have lived the life of poverty. I watched as a nursing home took the last life's blood and money from, first my grandmother who raised me, then my mother who could barely care for me. As my mother aged - she too was forced into a 'rehabilitation center' only to have them get their hooks into her meager assets.

Perhaps a large part of this problem is the unregulated power of the attorneys who connive on behalf of large, corporate owned institutions that claim to be here to help our infirm and elderly.

I fear for the safety of my family - just my partner and our dogs at this moment - when one of us really hits a wall. Surviving cancer and a car wreck is all that we've tested the system with so far. I wonder how we will fare after the next blow.

In Washington State, we have tried to protect all our vulnerable populations. This article shows me one more reason to *not* desire to retire in sunny California.

I'm straight and am nauseated reading this story. It sickens me that the US is this wrapped up in its moral majority a$$, too busy quoting the bible and the constitution, to see that these are simply people.

The US is so hell bent on preserving what the founding fathers created that it allows two human beings to be treated like rubbish. Gay, black, Mexican, anyone that is not white and straight and deemed conventional is ultimately meant to be burned at the stake. I'm so tired of this.

KKK rallies in Los Angeles underscore my point. What if that were one of these peoples' father or grandfather and his partner? I can see this happening to my uncle who was once married and has now been with his partner longer than he was with my aunt.

I'm rambling but I'm also disgusted! Amerikkka, wake up!

The constitution would protect the citizen from any government seizing property like this.
A return to the principles of small governemnt as outlined in the constitution would have protected this couple.

Indeed Smart Kat. This is clearly a violation of the 4th Amendment: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

It's too late once it's all gone and the parties are dead from grief isn't it.

This story is horrifically tragic. Where's the human decency?!

I'm Q but since I was married and have children most people assume that I'm straight. I’m single now and one of the things that keeps me from pursuing a same sex relationship is cr** like this. I keep hearing tea party and other conservatives tell us that liberal reforms are not what the founding fathers intended when they wrote the Declaration of Independence- they may be right: Our founding fathers were religiously conservative and most of them were slave owners and did not intend that the freedoms they proposed were to be meant for anyone besides white males (and the property, I mean wives, they owned). I'm Chinese, born in 1961 in California. There was a CA law that was not repealed until 1966 which prohibited Chinese men from marrying (America needed them to build the railroads not breed) so my older brother and I were technically illegally conceived and born. We have a long way to go to be equal and for many Americans, the longest part of that journey is in their hearts and souls.

One of my first reactions on hearing that my teenaged child was gay was a deep fear that one day he would be alone, with no one to love him in his old age. It is haunting that my primative fears could be my child's reality.

This couple was not allowed what is truly the last act of true love; being with your partner in their final moments of life. No last words, or hands held. How painfully tragic.

I am horrified that this could happen - how could this county seize control of this couple's possessions and lives and do whatever with them? Even beyond the fact that they're gay, does the state really have the right to force an elderly person out of his house and into a nursing home? That's horrifying.

Poor Clay. How could anyone do this and still sleep at night?

Meghan Stabler Meghan Stabler | April 18, 2010 10:02 AM

Thank you Kate for telling us this sad story.

This needs to be forwarded, emailed, printed, and taken to every church and religious leader. It needs to be read by parishioners, nailed to their notice boards raising questions that must best asked about their true faith and understanding of God.

Those who fail to understand the need for human decency, and the complicit role they play in inequality for all must read this.

Copies need to be distributed. Direct questions must be asked of them as to why they would deny us rights. Failed and flawed teachings are devastating humanity.

How could those against us read this and say what they do is right by God? And we MUST call them out on this!

Please send letters to the Press Democrat. Also, if you live in/around Sonoma County, consider attending the first court hearing to show support to Clay. The July 16 date in the story is a quick date-setting appointment, not the opening of the trail.

Meghan Stabler Meghan Stabler | April 18, 2010 1:41 PM

Let's make sure our anger is heard and those against equality ashamed:

Call and write:

6th District: Marin County and Sonoma County

Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey
Washington DC Office: (202) 225-516
Marin Office: (415) 507-9554
Sonoma Office: (415) 507-9601
Website: woolsey.house.gov

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-445-2841

Sonoma County Supervisors:
FIRST DISTRICT: Supervisor Valerie Brown

SECOND DISTRICT: Supervisor Mike Kerns

THIRD DISTICT: Supervisor Shirley Zane

FOURTH DISTRICT: Supervisor Paul Kelley

FIFTH DISTRICT: Supervisor Efren Carrillo

Get this on the news:


Rachel Maddow, MSNBC - rachel@msnbc.com

MSNBC Live Senior Producer Chris Ariens (201) 583-5000 chris.ariens@msnbc.com

MSNBC Live Senior Producer Stefanie Cargill (201) 583-5000 stefanie.cargill@msnbc.com

MSNBC/Microsoft-NBC National News Director Robert Dembo (201) 583-5222 robert.dembo@msnbc.com

MSNBC/Microsoft-NBC News Senior Director Alison Hawley (201) 583-5155 alison.hawley@msnbc.com

MSNBC/Microsoft-NBC News Senior Producer Steve Hyvonen (201) 583-5155 (201) 583-5453 steve.hyvonen@msnbc.com

MSNBC Live Senior Producer Nick Kovijanic (201) 583-5000 nick.kovijanic@msnbc.com

MSNBC/Microsoft-NBC News Senior Producer Dave Levine (201) 583-5707 dave.levine@nbc.com

MSNBC/Microsoft-NBC News Editor In Chief Jerry Nachman (201) 583-5155 jerry.nachman@msnbc.com

MSNBC/Microsoft-NBC News Senior Producer Richard Stockwell (201) 583-5155 richard.stockwell@msnbc.com

MSNBC/Microsoft-NBC News Senior Producer Mike Tanaka (201) 583-5155 mike.tanaka@msnbc.com

MSNBC/Microsoft-NBC News Senior Producer Essa Yip (201) 583-5155 essa.yip@msnbc.com

ABC News 212-456-4040
CBS News 212-975-3691
NBC News 212-664-4971
CNN 404-827-1511
Fox News 212-301-3300
MSNBC 201-583-5222
PBS 703-998-2150
NPR 202-414-2200
NY Times 212-556-1234
USA Today 703-276-3400
Newsweek 212-445-4000
Time 212-522-1212
U.S. News 202-955-2000

You can submit comments about the case of Clay Greene and Harold Scull here:
If they get a few dozen comments and people from out of the county express thoughts about not vacationing there or buying Sonoma County wines then maybe they will do something.

Thank you for this. I cut and pasted it on Facebook.

The Sonoma office for Congresswoman Woolsey is 707-542-7182. What you have listed there is her Marin fax number.

OK, for anyone not paying attention... THIS is why we need fully recognized MARRIAGE RIGHTS and we need them NOW! Anything less is inadequate protection against the bigotry inherent in our bureaucratic government.

I am completely horrified and saddened by this. I found a facebook page called Justice for Clay Greene and Harold of Sonoma County, CA. It's small but hopefully it will grow.

Lane Melcic | April 18, 2010 12:18 PM

Absolutely disgusting!

This just proves that gays are second class citizens in this country, no matter what state we live in.
I firmly believe that ALL gays should stand together and discriminate against all the federally protected classes. Yes, gays should boycott all others and only serve themselves for a while. Maybe, then others will see how many of us there are, and how we impact their lives in a positive way.
I'm tired of being nice to everybody, while they freely discriminate against us! Clearly, this approach doesn't work.

The "stupid old fags" comment was the beginning of a complete sarcastic post. She actually made a very good point.

Caoimhe Snow | April 18, 2010 3:00 PM

I firmly believe that ALL gays should stand together and discriminate against all the federally protected classes.

...what the heck is wrong with you, that you'd even think such a thing?

We're only hearing about it now because the County most likely tried to keep this under wraps. Such outrageous discrimination, behavior, and taking advantage of is not something they probably wanted everyone to know about.

As for these guys being "stupid old fags", similar could be said about you. Stupid uniformed, biased, privileged person that you appear to be. Try walking in someone elses footsteps for a while then rethink your view point.

Every one of us has the right to love and be loved by whomever we choose. Who gave any other person the right to judge that, or with hold rights for certain people. This to me is akin to keeping Jews in camps, or African Americans as slaves in 2010. It's absurd, and anyone who thinks it's OK, is greatly mistaken and truly ignorant!

libsechumanist | April 19, 2010 12:03 AM

Please, SS, read the entire post and other posts by the same person - that comment was SARCASM. Please, others have said it above and below your post and now I am - please completely read the posts and understand them. Often satire and sarcasm as the best tools for communication.

Sonoma County and everyone involved in this horrific crime must be bankrupted and thrown in jail for as long as Harold stays deceased.

brianna hoffner | April 18, 2010 12:39 PM

when my partner and i bought our first house together, our lawyer said, "you should go become domestic partners now". when i asked why he said, "because i've seen many a formerly-cool family pull the 'he was just a roommate' card when they stand to inherit a million dollar piece of san francisco real estate. and a domestic partnership, while far from airtight, is the only piece of government paperwork you can get that says, 'we were a whole lot more than just roommates'"

Kate (or Bil),

Is there anyone setting up a place where people can donate money to Clay? He's got lawyers now, but he's lost everything. People have started asking on the now multiple Facebook threads about this. Is this something NCLR can facilitate?

To SS and anyone else getting their panties in a wad about the "stupid old tags" comment... reread the whole comment, she was being sarcastic toward the Amanda person, and did not, in any way, indicate that she felt that way. There should be required Sarcasm 101 classes taught to all the ignorant people that have internet access. It can be tough to pick up on, in written form, but that was clearly/easily identifiable.

About the story, it is deplorable that this could happen to anyone. At least it's getting some coverage thanks to Facebook.

You know do to their ages they probably thought they did do all the right things. I read an article about a year ago where a young lesbian couple did everything right. However, they were going on a cruise and was leaving from Florida, when one partner got sick, and was rushed to the hospital just as she was boarding the ship. They rushed her to the hospital, where it was found that she had a blood vessel in her brain had ruptured and they only gave her a few hours to live. She spend that whole night in the emergency room dying alone because Fl did not accept domestic partnership, so even though they had all the paper work, her partner was never able to be with her during this time, she died alone. As a nurse I think this was wrong, if I had of worked there I would have broken the rule, but neither the nurses or the social worker would help them.

I am as outraged and scared of how this could happen in our country as those that have written here before me. I was just thinking....

It is funny to me how so many people in America these days never seem to step back from a situation AS IT IS UNFOLDING to evaluate whether what they are doing is right.

There is nothing that can be done - no amount of attention, action, or money - at this point other than to not do it again. Someone somewhere will get a bill passed and little will come out of it unless people start pulling their heads out of their asses and stop being so self-centered and blaise about our fellows.

We move so fast in this world that we rarely hold people truly accountable.

This has happened time and time again. ANY form of discrimination says the State of California says it's okay to treat people as less than equal, or in this case, less than human. Proposition 8 is that form of discrimination.

The government took away our freedom and it's time we took it back!!

Actually the government of California stood by and did nothing while your fellow citizens (largely financed by Utah Mormons) took your rights which had only recently been recognized under the Equal Protection clause away from you. The California Supreme Court furthered the travesty of justice which is Prop. 8, by refusing to apply the 14th Amendment's "Equal Protection" clause as the Constitutional standard and thereby invalidate any citizen-brought initiative, however popular, which is inherently inconsistent with equality. Furthermore, they created a new violation of the 14th of their own, i.e. allowing marriages which had been performed legally to retain their legal status, which creates inherent inequality among the groups of heterosexual marriages, homosexual marriages legally recognized, and homosexual relationships which will never be recognized by the state (assuming no other initives are passed and the Supreme Court doesn't overturn Prop. 8.)

As unhappy with the government as I am, it sadly is about the only thing standing between us and total denial of any of our rights. Sadly in this case, Sonoma decided to ignore the law and destroy a couple's lives. I'm sure they did it with Clay's best interest in mind. (Sarcasm Alert in the Last Line.)

Sandy Brown | April 18, 2010 1:37 PM

It should not matter whether you are gay or straight, married or living together, if you have signed documents, that should be enough. What happened to these two men was wrong. They were taken advantage of and their rights were violated. They were robbed of the last moments they would have had together and all of their belongings are gone. I commend the attorneys that are helping the one remaining man. I hope the best for them and their fight.

I agree with Sandy, marital status, gay, straight, family, etc. should have nothing to do with it. It's a matter of the individual rights of the person or persons involved. In NYC, when I called 911 when my longtime friend and roommate went into the hospital after a long illness, I went with her in the ambulance, was consulted in the hospital (she had named me as health-care proxy). I was allowed to sleep overnight in the waiting room, spent days at her bedside while she lingered, unconsious. And I was there when she finally passed, in peace. It was hard, but it was right. That's what people do for friends, family, those they care for. Nobody should die alone, be held prisoner against their will in a way that dehumanizes them and strips them of everything they hold dear. Human rights demand exercising control over one's life situation and the power to select from options available.

This story terrible on two accounts -- ignoring the directives of these two men, and this country's treatment of our senior citizens. The story of appointing a guardian to the elderly when a hospital believes he/she has no living relatives is all too common across this country. There are companies that provide guardians for the hospital. The hospital pays the company a fee, then a guardian is appointed to oversee the care of the patient. What usually happens is the patient is put in the nursing home and the guardian is supposed to be responsible for managing his/her finances. And too many times, that means selling off their possessions. It's all too common for a hospital to confine an elderly person to a nursing home for recovery from surgery/illness/etc., only to have the person recover and find out he/she has been wiped clean of possessions and money. Not to mention, there are many unscrupulous guardians who take advantage of the situation and use the patient's money or credit cards to rake up purchases for themselves. This whole practice of appointing guardianship ad-hoc is appalling and in dire need of review by state legislators. Do a little research, and you will find numerous court cases similar to this story. It is scandalous that the basic rights of not only gay people, but also the elderly, are thrown out the window so easily.

she.tastes.of.rain | April 18, 2010 2:01 PM

My grandparents are close in age to Clay and Harold. They are currently in the process of moving out of their home, and are facing the grueling task of planning for death. Confronting your own mortality is a difficult, wrenching process, and no one, I mean NO ONE, should be forced to die alone simply because a governmental agency declares it so. It disgusts me that Harold and Clay's civil and legal rights were so totally disregarded. But it bothers me more that no one involved even raised an eyebrow. I agree with an earlier poster - the nursing home system and the governmental agencies that protect them could do this to anyone. And it is most often those who slip through the cracks who are most vulnerable to this kind of assault. I'm sure Sonoma County has plenty of excuses for why this happened - they were just doing what they "were supposed to". Those who were involved may even feel they followed protocol. But what disturbs me the most is that we could be at a point as a society where we are willing to rationalize the gaping disconnect between the person as a statistic (just one more body in a nursing home) and the person as a human being, with emotions and experiences that are valid and valuable. Absolutely no human being deserves to be treated as though their existence is of no concern. This is a blatant case of homophobia, but also I think Harold and Clay were targeted because of their age and their lack of resources (true the nursing home sold their possessions, but they couldn't have been wealthy if they didn't own their own home). Ageism, classism *and* homophobia are at work here, and we should be angry on all counts. How is it that an older person can suddenly become just a number to be placed in a bed? How is it that no one listened to Harold or Clay when they asked to see each other, which I'm sure they did? How heartless do you have to be to even *consider* allowing someone to die alone when their partner is just miles apart? The frustrating part is how typical stories like this are...and without adequate legislation, it will continue to happen.

Thank you for the most important distinction that dedicated caring for others is not to be determined on whatever their sexual intimacy is. This is an atrocity of ineffable proportions, yet, not unique to any situation where predatory practices are rewarded through the negligence of ethical supervision...When each person who might have faced losing their job by not following the dictates of their immediate superior, it might come down to turning the blind eye to avoid similar individual losses to families with even more dependencies at stake. This reflects the threat to all our humanity when our doing the right thing can lead to greater personal perils than the injustices one attempts to overcome for others.

This is a reminder about our need for political clout. I am pro-gay ghetto so that we have the strength in numbers to educate and influence our environment: social, political, service and other.

If we continue to allow real estate speculation to displace us from our communities and scatter us to the wind, we will continue to see LGBT people face these kinds of atrocities.

It boggles the mind why local governments do so much harm to the individual.
This is not a marriage vs. domestic partnership issue. This is a human rights issue. What about people who live together as friends for their adult lives? Their level of intimacy should not have a whit to do with their legal protection from assaults by the anti-empaths of our world.
When individuals live together in a shared space, their property should be protected as a group unless legal directives speak differently.
Our society is so mean, the elected officials are just a representative of the FoxNews type of selfish I have mine and I want yours mentality.
Clay I am praying that your life can be reconstructed and that peace prevails during your remaining days. I am also praying for huge fines, firings, and jail time for the perpetrators of these crimes.

This is very sad, indeed. Shameful, even.

Re: psychopathy - Dr. Hare's research is absolute crap. One in every 100 people is a psychopath? Give me a break. This is absolute nonsense. Dr. Hare is an ivory tower blowhard who lacks the firsthand experience of working with people who've committed heinous crimes in a non-clinical environment. I work exclusively with people who've committed murder, and you'd expect to see a lot of psychopaths if you believe Dr. Hare. Not so much.

This is an outrageous example of the combined forces of homophobia and disabiliphobia. Because of their disabilities, these two men were deprived of their liberty and their property, and one of them was ultimately deprived of his life. Because of their homosexuality, they were denied the right to their relationship.

Regan DuCasse | April 18, 2010 2:44 PM

This shit could be easily solved. No ambiguity on the part of the state. No confusion regarding what rights are in effect, or where or to whom the property or decisions belong.
It's easy.


Like, yesterday.

Juli DeFilippis | April 18, 2010 2:49 PM

My heart just sank...is it true that so many are so ignorant...so blind. I am not Gay but I am someone that believes in love..and clearly these wonderful men had that...and a short moment it was taken away. My Grandmother and Grandfather were separated when my grandma was put into a nursing home at 100, it killed me-it was wrong and I was to young to do anything... I have to always believe that there are more good people like those supporting these and many others then there are ignorant.
To Clay I send you my love and support, and am truly sorry for your loss of your friend and lover..

Barb Caffrey | April 18, 2010 10:23 PM

I agree with Juli's comment 100%. I feel so terrible for Clay. I wish Harold hadn't been separated from Clay -- they had all the paperwork in order and Sonoma County was plain, flat wrong in separating them, then denying Clay any opportunity to see Harold while Harold was dying. As for selling off all their personal possessions -- that was sickening.

I hope there is some way Clay can remedy this -- Sonoma County should have to pay for this serious error. But I'd also like to see if there are some folks out there who are willing to set up a fund for Clay; it won't bring back his pictures, or his possessions that he lost, but it will perhaps give him some peace of mind that some people still care. (I'd do it, but I'm unemployed and disabled. Unfortunately, the only way I can help Clay or anyone else is with prayers, which have already been sent.)

I feel very strongly about this and really wish this had never, ever happened. It was wrong, it was disgusting and it should be remedied by Sonoma County -- as in, paying a multimillion $$ settlement to Clay to avoid going to court. And an apology. Because they were plain, flat wrong and no matter how many people try to hide behind "we were just doing our jobs" (hear the whine in that implicit phrase? Yes? Good.), they knew better and refused to admit it. Which makes this even worse.

I live in Sonoma County. This is one of the most queer-friendly counties in the entire country with openly gay politicians, the tourist industry pushing for gay marriage, Prop 8 being completely trounced, the foster care system welcoming applications from gay couples, etc.

If this travesty could happen here it could, will, does happen anywhere. I have no idea why the county officials involved went down this road or why it wasn't stopped before it was too late. I am willing to bet though that this was not simple homophobia, though it's likely homophobia was involved. I would guess it was more about what officials could get away with, and these men not being legally married was the excuse.

Please note that Meghan's list gives Lynn Woosley as the area congressional rep. She is my rep but her district does not cover all of Sonoma County.

The rep for the rest of the County is Mike Thompson.

I really want to hear the rest of this story.

Was it homophobia, or just social worker myopia? Some drones just look for the X in the box, and if it's not there, don't bother thinking it might be somewhere else.

If Clay "was in good health", as the article states, how could he have been forced into a nursing home? They don't send people in the dead of night to collect the healthy elderly.

Something is missing here.

"I really want to hear the rest of this story."

Why don't you ask a newspaper or a television news program, ANY of them, to bother to even try and cover this story, then?

Because, as near as I can tell (via Google News, Google News Archives, etc.) not a single one of them has.

This story is not balanced. Where are and what are the comments of spokesperson for the County? Can't believe that all this happened in the manner stated in the article. This is California we talking about and not that far from the Peoples Republic os San Franciso in a very toney area. There is much more here then what is being reported. I was a manager in County government and even being in different counties; we all had to follow similar policy and procedures. The reporter is not honestly reporting all the facts.

Linda Cummings | April 18, 2010 3:45 PM

This is terrible! My aunt had a partner in San Raphael and when she passed away, we didn't get any of her property from the partner. Although another widowed aunt had very good living conditions. Gay or straight, you shouldn't be treated differently from others! Let's hope this changes soon!!!

This is horrible, people need to open their eyes and see that they hurt people with some of their actions. Now this poor man has to live his life with out the love of his life and that will not be easy to do. Wow these people should be locked away they shouldn't be have people locked away.

The story keeps referring to "the county" when there must have been a real live person (mis)handling this situation. As a social worker, I hope that it was NOT a social worker because one with any training would have known to check out all the issues and show compassion to the persons involved. There was SOMEONE handling this...what does this person have to say for him/her self? This happens to couples regardless of marital status all the time...people need to have an advocate, attorney or someone set up to be involved in case of illness or disability...sooner than later. I only hope that this case can make a difference in the protocol in a lot of places and soon.

This should be on the front page of all California Papers. Where is the anti Prop 8 movement. They sure haven't been real busy collecting signatures to get a ballot initiative.

Why is there no date attached to this story? When did this happen?

Where are links to other sources to this story? What are the surnames of these poor men?

This is the ONLY thing I've been able to find about this case. Every single thing on the web about Green v. County of Sonoma (and it IS "Green" -- no "e" on the end of the name, according to Google, anyway) is linked right back to the NCLR post.

There isn't a single news article about it, there isn't a SINGLE other corroborating piece. Nothing. One article; and it doesn't contain surnames. NOTHING that allows independent research.

I'm not saying it didn't happen -- in fact I'm sure it might have. But when something like this leads you in circles, when every single post you find on the internet leads you right back to the original source -- curb your outrage until you can find another source.

There are plenty of instances where this has happened-- thousands, in fact. And I'd love to go to court on the date this is scheduled to appear; I'm in Los Angeles, but unfortunately scheduled to move to MIchigan in late June...

But something is really OFF, here. Why doesn't someone who's actually in the area GO to court on the date in question? Check out this story? Do some citizen journalism?

And in case anyone's wondering -- I'm not a troll, people -- I'm a dyed-in-the-wool liberal, long time gay rights advocate. Which is why I'm just wondering why there's so little sourcing on this story. It's outrageous; where is the media on something like this?

Let me know -- I'd like to follow up http://www.myleftwing.com --
Maryscott O'Connor -- myleftwing@gmail.com

This is the only official mention I've been able to find so far, and his name IS Greene, it seems:

"3. The Board of Supervisors will consider the following in closed session:
Conference with Legal Counsel?Existing Litigation
Name of Case: Clay M. Greene, Jannette Biggerstaff, Executor of the Estate of Harold Scull, Deceased v. County of Sonoma, et al.Superior Court of California, County of Sonoma, SPR-81815
(Govt. Code Section 54956.9(a))"

--from Nov. 3, 2009

Here is the agenda item from a Nov 3, 2009 county board meeting (PDF):

The Board of Supervisors will consider the following in closed session: Conference with Legal Counsel-Existing Litigation Name of Case: Clay M. Greene, Jannette Biggerstaff, Executor of the
Estate of Harold Scull, Deceased v. County of Sonoma, et al. Superior Court of California, County of Sonoma, SPR-81815 (Govt. Code Section 54956.9(a))

I agree Charles. Although the story is horrific, and I am appalled to know that people in our "free" America are still being exposed to such behaviors and ignorances, I question why they seemingly attacked Clay. It makes me wonder if there were instances of domestic abuse or violence. Whatever the case... Where are the family members in all of this? And, why aren't they fighting for the rights of Harold and Clay?

David Bernier | April 18, 2010 4:46 PM


I see this action as particularly damning for Sonoma County. For the sake of argument, let's assume Clay was not only in good health, but also competent to decide things for himself (e.g.: no Alzheimer's problem, memory lapses, etc.).

Why on Earth would Sonoma County see it fit to deny Clay the opportunity to visit Harold?

Sonoma County: who pays your revenue? whom do your employees work for?

Anonymous from Canada

Having read the story, it seems more of it was elder abuse. Harold was injured, but Clay was in good health, so how did he also end up in a nursing home? Even if they were "just roommates" why was everything assumed to belong to Harold? Or did they sell everything to pay for Clay's (involuntary) stay in a nursing home, too?
From what I've heard, marriage is not a guarantee against separation in a nursing home.
I do believe we need marriage/partnership rights for everyone.

I'd like to see some legal opinion on the chances of Clay recovering at least the financial losses he's incurred. They'll never be able to repair his broken heart, tho., the ruthless bastards.

I just can't believe it went so far so fast!

They may have been older, they may have needed help, but they also did what was necessary to stay together and watch out for one another which the County disregarded.

Would you want this to happen to you after filling all the necessary forms? To see the State or County just disregard what the LAW has said you should do to avoid this?

What can be done NOW!! HOW do we help others before they are overrun by Authorities and their OWN Viewpoints not the actual LAW?


I am not gay, but I am a gay activist. I believe this is a call to action for the gay community and its supporters; I am here to say that from this day forward, I will keep my eyes open for elderly gay persons living in my community, and will make the effort to stop by and say hi or look in on them now and again. Only through serving as a pro-gay, pro-elderly "neighborhood watch" program, can we find out if and when these kinds of things are happening, while they are happening- and blow the whistle to gay rights activist groups, media and others. If every one of us 'adopted' an elderly person or couple, this problem may be nullified. It's deeply disturbing that it happened and it's worse that gay marriage is not in effect to prevent it, but we can't "undo" the past, only find ways to change the future. Who in your neighborhood or community, is vulnerable? Are there any gay activist reps going to nursing homes and asking about partners left behind, others who might be at risk, etc? Activism is often about one person, helping another - as much as it is about achieving great political change. I say, it's time for a gay " underground railroad" to help the aging, maintain their dignity of life and escape this destiny of enslavement and disempowerment; because sooner or later, we will all be those aging people for whom our neighbors keep a watchful eye. Mia Pratt

I am a firm believer in marriage equality and equal rights, and I'm sure that something horrible happened here - but, I also think we need more information. I don't know if this is something that could have happened to two straight people or not, or if there was some legal loophole that allowed the county to act so despicably. My biggest concern here is that they weren't allowed to see each other - that part, to me, seems like the place where things were directed at them because of their orientation. All the other legal and financial things could probably have happened to anyone. But not seeing your love before they die? NOT. OK.

This is such a travesty! My heart is broken for them. But PLEASE stop bashing religion and Christians - Don't you see that's no better than gay bashing? I'm a devout Christian and I am PRO-gay marriage/gay rights (and a democrat!)... These things are NOT mutually exclusive. Just because there is a minority of outspoken, hateful Christians, doesn't mean all of the millions in this country are like that. That's like saying all Muslims are crazy bombers who hate women and Americans. NO, that's the small extreme faction of Muslims. Millions of Muslims live peacefully and with love for all people. It makes me sad when people who have been/are discriminated against bash/discriminate against another group. How is that any different? True Christians love ALL people, no matter what race, gender, sexuality etc. Jesus loved EVERYONE!! Unfortunately the extremists are more vocal and get more TV time than the majority of peaceful, ordinary Christians. Please stop bashing religious groups.

Amanda and Stacey, you can say that the majority of Christians are not hateful toward gays, but if that were really the case, Prop 8 wouldn't have passed. You might like to think the bigots are just a small, extreme faction of Christians, but you are merely presenting an opinion of the way you would LIKE things to be. Look at the real examples -- the best way to determine whether the majority of religious people think of gays as second class citizens is to look at all the gay marriage bans approved by these (predominately Christian) voters across the country. Every single goddamn one of them passed when it was put to a vote.

I used to be a very tolerant person, because I felt it was right, especially after all the intolerance and downright hatred directed at people like me. But over the last several years, I realized I was being a sucker and getting nowhere. Right after Prop 8 passed, I fired the one Mormon worker I had on my staff, and I'll never hire another one. To think that the money I paid him every two weeks was going to fund his hateful church in their political mission just made me sick. When I see these stupid little Mormon missionaries on their bicycles, it takes some self control to keep from swerving my car to mow them down.

It's time to fight fire with fire. If they can discriminate against us, despite our pleas for tolerance and equality, we need to do more to punish them. I hope everyone involved in denying Clay access to his beloved is fired, and I hope anyone in charge of hiring wherever they interview for a new job is savvy to this situation and denies them employment. If something... tragic... were to happen to any of them, I certainly would not shed a tear.

I know it doesn't make sense, and it means I'm becoming as much of a monster as the people who are committing these wrongs against us, but I am very angry and I have been for a long time. I am even starting to understand the kind of rage terrorists must feel, and that horrifies me, as I have so much contempt for Muslims. However, hateful thoughts of revenge are my only comfort, as I have lost all hope that religious people will ever really be able to stop screaming, "Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve!" Idiots. I have nothing but hatred for them, and nothing but ridicule for their apologists, Amanda and Stacey. You are naive in the extreme if you can't see that the jackboot on the back of the gay person's neck has The Church written all over it. Until you people can truly think for yourselves instead of blindly following your imaginary friend, life is always going to be harder for gays. It is all so unnecessary. You yourselves may be able to ignore the Bible's stupid verses against homosexuality (and good for you), but believe me, the majority of your fellow sheep cannot.

Neil - you are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Prop 8 was funded by out of state Mormons, not California-based Catholics / Christians. You are comparing apples to oranges.

If you ever make your way to California, please visit Glide church so you can see for yourself. Gays are openly welcome in California.

If you don't have anything nice to say, please don't bother to comment. There is enough hate in this world. Thank you.

Kimberly Frantz | April 24, 2010 6:25 AM

This comment has been deleted for violation of the Terms of Service.

While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising.

Copy and pasting the same long reply over and over to different commenters is not allowed.

Kimberly Frantz | April 26, 2010 2:12 AM

Neil, I tried to reply with some encouragement as I replied to someone else who seemed upset. (In fact, I wrote the one reply for both of you). You can find it posted above if you ctrl + f "April 24, 2010 6:06 AM" I do not make personal attacks or say abusive things (but I have been a victim of slander). Sorry about any misunderstanding.

david alex nahmod | April 18, 2010 6:45 PM

We're shocked and outraged when things like this happen, but as many others have pointed out elsewhere, LGBT "equality advocates" and organizations haven't done a damn thing in years.
The HRC won't lift a finger to help anyone.
The other day, someone at Marraige Equality USA told me that other "advocacy groups" had done everything they could to insure that Equality USA failed in their attempts to get Repeal Prop 8 onto the next ballot.

And if I may suggest, please check out Why Do We Hate Each Other So Much? a Bilerico story posted on March 7, 2010.
In the comments section of that story, a nationally known gay activist freely admits to deliberately going out of his way to discredit other community members.

Is it any wonder that the anti-gay feel so empowered these days?

The best way to stop the kinds of abuses inflicted on those poor, sweet old guys to to put a stop to our phony advocacy groups and replace them with organizations that will help us when needed.

This is just... sick.

Sally Williams | April 18, 2010 6:49 PM

"The county workers then terminated Clay and Harold's lease and surrendered the home they had shared for many years to the landlord."

The home was leased, so obviously no back taxes. This is an all to common scenario with the elderly. If it had been a married heterosexual couple, there would have been more recourse.

This subject sadly touches on many issues. The fact that same-sex marriage is not given same legal rights. The fact that long term committed relationships that are not 'legal' marriages regardless of gender have no protections. The fact that the elderly are automatically considered incapable of speaking for themselves. The fact that NO ONE wants to deal with the fact that even the elderly can be and often still are sexual beings with drives and desires....so many biases wrapped up in one horrifying case of bureaucratic overreaching.

i just want to say as tears are streaming down my face,im 53 and scared of where we are going as gay americans...........xoxoxoxo love to all

The thing is, Amanda, if this had been a married couple this would not and could not have happened. Domestic partnerships are limited and often not honored. Until we are allowed to marry whom we love this will continue to happen. This is so tragic and much more common than you would realize. According to this article they did utilize an attorney and all was in order. Sonoma County chose to not honor their rights and their directives.

amandaisfun | April 19, 2010 11:01 PM

Yeah, but even if local officials aren't honoring domestic partnerships, eventually when its brought to court (being close to the city and NCLR and all those big firms in SF doesn't hurt either for publicity) there's a pretty damn good leg to stand on legally.

Joyce Stafford | April 18, 2010 7:26 PM

Reading about this really pissed me off. I am a straight woman but I am for gay couples to have the same rights as anyother couple. The county of senona literally commited theft on their parts. They should never have allowed for his partner to be unable to be with him in the hospital! They damn sure should never ever taken it upon themselves to auction off all of thier personal possesions or terminate the lease on there home. They have way over stepped thier boundaries. They took away both of these mens personal freedoms and civic rights. I think that not only the county but also the state of california should be sued the hell out of for this but then if I were the survivor of this relationship I know that no amount of money could ever replace the loss that this county has caused! I am ashamed that these government officials would do something like this, especially to the elderly!!!! I hope that each and everyone of the people involved in allowing this to happen rot in hell!

Panamabeauti | April 18, 2010 7:32 PM

This can also happen if your a married heterosexual couple and one spouse gets ill and has to go into a nursing home. If you don't have the money to pay for the nursing home care the courts and the hospital facility will take your house and get right into your bank account. So it's not just about gay partners THIS CAN HAPPEN TO EVERYBODY!!

This is absolutely disgusting.
The state has no right to separate them.
If they want to live together, it is a human right that they can.
I can't believe that even today, in 2010, people are treated like this.

Just proves that we still have to fight in order to prove that we ARE in fact humans and deserving of human treatment.

Its sad that the opponents feel they are being gracious to us when we don't have the same rights.

I may never see in my life when homosexual isn't a bad word. When gay isn't a mental illness. When love isn't restricted by ideals and thousand year old opinions.

I am happy to see a world where its not stood for.

welcome to the corporatist police state

Criminals are due representation before their freedom is taken away. Where was the respresentation for these two gentlemen before their wordly possessions, dignity AND freedom were taken? May Clay persevere and maintain some faith in his fellow man.

Just because CA did not recognize gay marriage is no the case here. I can name my son, my boyfriend, my neighbor, whoever I WANT in my will, and have him/her be my POA, and the only way a court can go above that is if it is deemed that the person who has POA is neglectful/abusing and/or stealing money/resources from me. I have worked as a Social Worker in nursing homes and in other establishments for nearly 6 years and part of my job was to help people get those papers in order, declare their POA.
Based on what is in this article, this seems a CLEAR violation of these people's civil liberties, which unfortu. happens every day in this country. THe children and the elderly are peoplenapped and taken away to places they don't want to be and should not be all the time. I hope Clay has contacted the ACLU.
And PS. the nursing homes I have worked in were private facilities and there was NEVER any amount of the facility or heads of that "swooped in" and tried to take anyone's anything! EVER! And we certainly NEVER banned anyone from visiting, unless they came in under the influence of drugs/alcohol or were abusive or had a restraining order.

Corinne - this is a really good point. I was called upon to oversee an unmarried relative's estate when he became very ill. I was made power of attorney and everything was a breeze.

This is not a gay issue. As more and more people choose to remain unmarried, we're going to see this problem over and over again. I believe gays and lesbians deserve the same rights as the rest of us, but until then, here are a few tips:

- make sure you have LONG TERM coverage
- confirm your power of attorney ahead of time
- understand the laws in your state

Corinne - very good point. But they listed each other as POA. What should have they done differently?

I thank God every day for living in the state of Massachusetts. The first state to legalize same sex marriages, and not even a hint of a strong enough opposition to battle it. It gives me hope that it IS possible for the rest of the country.

And for the poster railing on about institutions that explicitly condemn gays as deviants... not all Christians feel that way. A great number of them don't, actually. In fact, in my Baptist church, not only do we openly welcome the gay community, we hire them. Two of my Ministers are gay. So please, don't lump all of us in the same barrel as the rotten apples. :)

I attended a Catholic high school and faced all the stereotypical bigotry that people have come to expect from Catholics. In my third year, I took a class with a priest who talked daily about the importance of human rights, legalizing same sex marriage, allowing priests to get married, and allowing women to become priests. He also read the names of soldiers who had died that day at the beginning of each class and allowed us to define our own belief in a higher power, rather than assigning us an opinion. He was one of the most influential people I have ever met. Despite being buried in a mass of strict regulations, he came out on top as the most open minded and most respected in the group.

It may take one bad person to ruin it for everybody, but there is still a chance for the good person to come out on top.

Amen! There are a lot of churches that preach God's word -- we are all his children. Gays included.

No kidding... this is not just something that happens to gay and lesbian, this is BIG government intruding in everyone's life....wake up folks... quit with empowering the government to run your life thru entitlement. Folks are becoming dependant upon the government for everything... that's how this stuff happens. Whatever happened to taking care of yourself and leaving government intrusion behind?

This should never happen to ANYONE in America. Isn't that what our soldiers fight and die for? Freedom for all???

libsechumanist | April 19, 2010 12:15 AM

Big Gov and entitlements? Really? This story has nothing to do with that Right-Wing bilge. This story is about corruption, greed, and the abuse of elderly gay folks by a corrupt and greedy county and nursing homes in California. How were Clay and Harold dependent on the government? They leased a home, owned their belongings, signed all the legal papers they needed to make sure they could speak for each other - and were ignored. What does their actions have to with "becoming depending upon the government for everything"? Take the tea bags off your eyes and wake up - LACK OF RIGHTS and lack of Marriage Equality that "Big Gov" would ensure for these two gentlemen would have prevented this horrific crime. And no, our soldiers are not fighting and dying right at this moment for our freedom - they are unfortunately fighting and dying to line the pockets of corporations - this isn't the 1940s, you know. Bringing our troops into this was really out of line, too, you know. RWNJs have no shame or conscience.

"The county removed Clay against his will and confined him to a nursing home." This has nothing to do with gay vs. straight. This is either a case of the journalist leaving out a few key facts (e.g., if Clay was in good physical health but not of sound mind) or corruption (like the Chicago Tribune story today of Medicare nursing home scams in which destitute and somewhat senile elderly were sent to nursing homes for the revenue, with kickbacks to the doctors), or both.

It's a REALLY infuriating story, but...

I'm always mystified when I see
Results 1 - 10 of about 93,000 for Greene v. County of Sonoma
for something like this, and can't find anything pointing to any story on any news site, & all the references end up pointing back to one source.

I just don't like it when there's
1) a VERY infuriating story,
2) no dates on when any of this happened, no details, WHAT hospital? WHAT nursing home? WHAT judge? What was Harold's last name?
3) The story says things like "the county removed Clay from his home and confined him to a nursing home against his will" without saying HOW or WHY they did that... I mean what, was it just because they're EVIL?
4), like I said, every reference I can find to the story points back to one source.
My first reaction is to be ANGRY, OUTRAGED, but that little voice is saying "wait a minute... check the facts."... and I can't FIND any.

All I can find is this story , and every other story out there is pointing here or to the NCLR page, which is the same story.

Does ANYONE have any additional info on this story?

Michelle Cohn | April 19, 2010 11:27 AM

I agree, I would really like to know more.

This is a very scary story, but something does not seem right...

To those who surmised that the two victimized men in this case feared they would lose Social Security benefits if they either married during that brief window when it was legal in California or entered into a registered domestic partnership, doing either would not have had any impact on their benefits because the federal government does not recognize same-sex marriages or domestic partnerships. The real question is why their valid legal documents were ignored. It's the same kind of case as occurred in Florida, where a lesbian couple was denied access to each other when one of the partners was in a coma and dying, and was cited by President Obama when he issued his executive order last week requiring hospitals that receive federal funding not to discriminate against same-sex families.

As for the claim that this case supports the argument for smaller government, this makes no sense to me. After all, it was local, smaller government that was responsible for this travesty. If federal law protected the rights of gay men and lesbians, governments at all levels would think twice about trying to get away with such outrageous invasions of minority rights.

The problem here is actually not just the fact that these old men were gay. this kind of thing can happen to any of us. In Houston, a woman lost her house because they built a subdivision around her and the subdivision charged a fee. She never paid it as she was not part of the subdivision and did not belong to the Homeowners assoc. After about 15 or 20 yrs, the Homeowners Assoc took her to court re the back fees. The court took her house and sold it to pay the outstanding fees!! Just recently a woman lost her house which was sold to pay court costs and a bill which was originally $68 some years back and which because of late fees, etc had grown to an enormous amount. By the way - she was never billed for the $68. There are travesties of Justice all the time. I think this was just stupidity and I don't think it was because they were gay. I think it was because they were old!!! I personally find it very scary as I get older each year.

Since when did nursing homes become prisons? Visitors are allowed in all the nursing homes I have seen. I have visited people in nursing homes, people of both sexes, and nobody asked me if I was a lover, just if I was a family member or a friend.
As for the other stuff, I see a big settlement offer instead of a trial in the near future since a sonoma county jury would probably give away all the county money on this one.
And I will most assuredly stop buying Sonoma Valley Wines and produce and ask all my friends to stop as well.
I am not gay but have family who is.

Steve Hight | April 19, 2010 10:50 AM

David, the actions of a few county bureaucrats, no matter how reprehensible, do not just justify punishing the residents, employers, and employees of that county by withholding your commerce.

For one thing this article leaves a great many salient details blank. There is more to this story.
I highly recommend getting yourselves an ELDER CARE attorney when you reach a certain age. Homosexual, Lesbian, Straight, anyone to protect your assets and your freedom. My Mom would have been wiped out of her life savings if we hadn't gotten an attorney. It is shameful and if not a crime then criminal what is done to people who must
go to a nursing facility or are dying.

That is cruel, injust and uncalled for. If ever you believed in KARMA, believe it now and hope it works on all involved incl. the Judge.

Sadly, this situation happens all the time to all sorts of senior citizens. Being gay may just make it a bit worse in terms of the separation, but not necessarily. Nursing homes charge thousands of dollars a month, get guardianship, liquidize assets, spend them on monthly nursing home bill. Then, just to show how much they care, when you have no assets left and are eligible for medicaid, they kick you out because they have no available medicaid beds. And they will split up married heterosexuals too, I've seen it happen plenty of times. We all need to pay a lot of attention to this industry, and to protecting our gay seniors, our parents, friends, and siblings.

Larry Wolcott | April 19, 2010 12:42 AM

I wonder if anyone would be up for some kind of protest rally or march sometime before the hearing? This is just sickening.

Alan K Chan | April 19, 2010 1:59 AM

Did this story help push Obama to issue the directive on domestic partner LGBT hospital visitations? If so, maybe not everything was in vain.

California Native | April 19, 2010 2:56 AM

This story brings up a similar experience I endured when my best friend died from AIDS complications in Los Angeles in the mid-1990's.

He was only in his 40's and an orphan with no biological family so, like many gay men, I was his family.

I was also his POA. I even stapled it to his chart so it would not get lost in the shuffle of medical activity. Despite this, the POA was completely disregarded by the hospital.

Even tho it was the mid-1990's, the nurses wouldn't enter his room to bring him food or clean his soiled sheets; I had to.

I stayed with him for a week as his advocate while monitoring his treatment(I lived about 90 miles away) and then went home to freshen up and get fresh clothes. I intended to be gone only one day. I called the hospital and his doctors to check status but could not get them to return my pages.

I was so exhausted I fell asleep with my bags packed by the door the next night. I was awakened at 4AM by the hospital informing me he had died and they needed the bed and wanted my permission to remove him.

I was so demoralized and angry.

When I learned he had lost consciousness, I demanded to know how they could make medical decisions without my authorization.

I barred them from moving him until I personally returned however long it took; I drove 90 miles in the rain at 4AM. Then when I got there, I summoned every doctor involved in his care and, with his body present in the room, I gave them the lecture of a lifetime about how they allowed a man who was afraid of being alone to die alone with no dignity on his birthday.

Some of them left in tears but it didn't compare to the sense of defeat and devastation I felt at having been deprived the right to be there for him at the end. The sense of deprivation and failure as a friend is indescribable.

This was all too common during the height of the AIDS pandemic. Many of us lived these stories.

It is why many of us have fought for our rights like our lives depended upon it - because it does.

Our love is what ennobles us. Don't ever willingly surrender that.

John Graham | April 19, 2010 4:30 AM

Sonoma County SHOULD IMMEDIATELY arrange Clay's original rented house (and lease) and pay his rent as long as he may live.

ALSO, Sonoma County SHOULD IMMEDIATELY retrace ALL ITEMS SOLD at auction and retrieve them as STOLEN PROPERTY (of course Sonoma County buying back all these items)

Sonoma County SHOULD IMMEDIATELY APOLOGIZE TO ALL PARTIES involved and make things right AT ALL COSTS.

Clay should get EVERYTHING BACK. ...of course he will be missing Harold, and will never have him back.

This is sad.

Seems to me this goes even beyond gay rights. If I choose to have a friend, any friend, be legally responsible for me in any way with legally correct paperwork backing me, then that's it. Even if they don't live with me or we're not married or even involved.

Don't get me wrong I'm all for gay rights and the fact that people can't get married to whomever they chose is just stupid and cruel.

In this case though I think it goes beyond gay rights into just rights and the illegality of the situation, regardless of whether the men are gay or not.


Sad story yes. What more saddening is reading the blog banter. Where is peoples respect for one another. 2 people regardless of sex race or religion were unjustly separated against their own will and had their entire world broken off into pieces and sold to strangers moreover During the separation one of the men died.

Neither needs to be slandered or remembered for this injustice or article or sexual orientation.

Stop fighting with each other and fight the corrupt systems which allow this to come about. Its these skewed view that your arguing about here that create the grounds the courts use as justification for this behavior. Courts wont change if people dont change first. We are the people so smarten up, respect your neighbor, fellow man and women, and for petes sake at least if nothing else show some respect for the passed and the grieving!

All I can say about this is if they had filed all the correct things which it says they had then the council should have ha absolutely no right to do this they are absolute cunts who should really be sacked from their position. It's as if they did this to the couple just because they are gay!

Tamra Schnyder | April 19, 2010 7:12 AM

omg, i could cry. This is about human rights. That they were not even allowed to see each other is probably the biggest tragedy. Stuff can be replaced, but his partner is now gone. forever. I hope Karma comes and takes these ignorant b*stards out once and for all.

I'm completely sickened by this. I can't even imagine how they felt. It makes me wonder how much hope there is for me and my generation.

I don't think I have ever been so angry at anything that has happened in my county. I came up here to get away from shit like this.

Here's a heads up Sonoma County. I have lived here for ten years, I'm gay, and I'm so pissed off that I am going to find the names of every piece of SHIT that is responsible for this and I am going to plaster their names all over the Internet. I'm talking personal information, home phone numbers, emails, home addresses...you people are going to get a SHIT TON of hate coming your way from around the goddamned world. Because it's all you deserve, you monstrous fucking bastards.

I am literally so angry I'm shaking.

I'm a certified paralegal and also worked in hospital administration to consult patients of their rights and guide them through the proper filing of legal medical documents.
I don't know the law well in CA, but I'm quite certain that any adult person can name whomever they choose as their POA, being that the POA is also an adult and documents are properly filed with the county. Also a good idea to file a POA, DNR, and Informed Consent with any hospital admin during durations of stay to insure all expectations/wishes are understood and met.
It's irrelevant how the state legislates gay marriage as long as these two men did not have legal heterosexual spouses from which they were never divorced. Even if that were the case, until death of the Principal, the POA agent will act as custodian of said Principle, within the limits of duties granted in him in the POA. There are several types of POA's, therefore, a bit of research is helpful to determine which best fulfills necessary requirements.

The County can not seize property from anyone with an outstanding hospital debt unless specific items are listed in a contract agreed upon by both parties to satisfy the debt. However, a hospital lien may be filed in the County Real Records and is public knowledge. This lien will prevent any real property be bought or sold by debtor until debt is paid and lien cleared.

I don't know all the specifics of this case and story, but it seems that the County and Hospital acted illegally and unethically toward these two men. No matter the outcome, those two men lost the companionship of their beloved in the final days of their lives. It saddens me that those we look to and depend on to protect our health and legal rights, are the very ones stripping it from us. Is it not our ultimate duty to act with civility and humanity in this world?

zoekentucky | April 19, 2010 8:37 AM

I think a lot of people don't understand how this could have happened-- most people know very little about elder law. If the state decides you need to be in a home they can seize your assets to help pay for the bills. What they did wrong was ignore their relationship, ignore their rights and legal documents. Bottom line-- this wouldn't have happened to a legally married couple.

Stop being a bunch of ass hats (those of you who are being ass hats).

Clearly there is something left out of the story here. Whatever it is this is a complete miscarriage of justice and the law.

There is only one reasonable explanation for this to have occurred & the story absolutely does not indicate an abusive relationship. Some clown(s) is going to/will get their attitude adjusted over this.

It sounds like it was just plain wrong. The survivor is likely going to live comfortably on the proceeds of this injustice. Unfortunately, he would have preferred to live just as they were.

Good luck old man.

This breaks my heart. How can we take pride in our country " THE LAND OF THE FREE" When foreigners legal and illegal are treated with more rights and respect than our own. How dare another person say who you can or cant love. I find breaking down a persons rights in this country because of there sexual preference is a violation of privacy, It's perverted, to say the least its harassment. If your disrupting others life because your meddling in there sexual business then shame on them send them to jail. Its a perversion an mental obsession with an unwelcome stalking of somebody's sex life. Im so angry that those poor men endured this. Twenty years of loyalty, friendship, Happiness, love. Over half this nations straight couple are over within the first 5 years or less.Who is the poor example of morality i ask you? I Pray for all involved in this matter. It takes a cold cold hearted person to do the things that were done here. It served absolutely no purpose to do any of this with the persistence they did other than to satisfy there cruel heartless need to destroy two happy strangers. To find pleasure and joy in another's misery is wrong and sick!

Guy Sutton | April 19, 2010 9:46 AM

I just saddens my heart to hear of this crap still happening. My heart goes out to you Clay, stay strong for the trial, ALL of our prayers are being sent your way with light and power.... As a gay man, it just breaks my heart that this happens, but just imagine what the black community still goes through every single day too. I thought we were grown ups.... Guess I made a mistake in assumption..... G-d speed Clay and you WILL prevail..... Guy Sutton, Shingletown CA

Bryan Hughes | April 19, 2010 9:48 AM

Sounds like one of the lawyers against these old men was John Maderious, whom lied to and defrauded a deaf for his, the lawyers, own gain.
So tragic how the innocent suffer when justice just doesn't care!!

john pinkney | April 19, 2010 9:51 AM

well this is just despicable.Leave it to the small minds and uncaring people who populate our governments giving themselves the power to create laws and by laws that allow themselves to do what ever they want to people.Its insidious.
No one is paying any attention to the UN charter of Human rights that was so brilliantly writen not so long ago by an American. Targeting the vulnerable is the actions of weak and inferior people no matter what.

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.


How did county and health workers gain control ?

If all the paperwork actually was in order as claimed, the only way I can think of this could happen is there were competency hearing(s) the article didn't mention.

Its very sad, I am so worried about these things happening to me or my parnter...I hope things change in 30 years for the good!

As sad as this is, this sort of thing can happen to any of us, white, black, gay, purple, etc. This isn't a gay issue, the real issue seems to be the ability of a nursing home taking control of anyone's financial business. Anyone without family members that care enough to step in are a target for this, which is ANYONE OF US. I don't care one way or another if a gay can or cannot get married, but get tired of people calling others racist because they would like the law followed, gay bashers because they don't agree or even care about gay issues and don't thing everything that happens to a gay person is because they are gay. My life doesn't go my way, maybe because it is that i'm white.

charlie leeder | April 19, 2010 11:18 AM

I want to contribute to Clay's effort. To whom and where can I send money?

NCLR is working on the case and I'm sure would welcome donations. They are the National Center for Lesbian Rights but don't just take cases involving women.


Also see:

For a good explanation of why this story is legit and how the NCLR fits in.

Cheryl Cristello | April 19, 2010 11:20 AM

Together, hand in hand, we must be constantly vigilant fighting the fear, ignorance, and misplaced hatred of some members of society. By allowing people to get to know us as the intelligent, kind, caring, wonderful people we will some day effect real change in attitudes. Let us use Clay and Harold's horrible experience to galvanize us all in the fight for true justice and equality.

Good Vibrations | April 19, 2010 11:27 AM

I am of the opinion that, when the morally, humanely right thing to do is so obvious, so blatant, the law should be interpreted in a way that complements the humanity.

In this situation, it seems that no legitimate sense of law was even invoked.

So, I have decided that, rather than hatred and bitterness, I send much good energy and love to Sonoma County's legislative body, in the hope that their hearts will reconnect with their minds and their gavels, and that they will change because of our love, not our hate....


Wow, you're just all kinds of dumb, aren't you?

It's people like you who give religion a terrible name.

And plus, it's not like Clay and Harold could've moved somewhere else. They're old men.

This story is short on the details, but that's what a court is for. To this office-chair observer, they were quite in the wrong.

Clay, I hope you hand them their heads in court.

Charles Thornton | April 19, 2010 11:38 AM

What happened to Clay and Harold was just wrong. I not convinced that Gay Marriage is the issue. I am sure that because they were a gay couple that this happned to them. With the proper paperwork, one should be able to identify who has the authorty to make decisions for the patient. It does not have to be family or someone you are having a loving relationship. Would they have ignored the paperwork if Clay was just a friend, or his attorney? And if it was his roommate, Harrold still had the right to appoint Clay. The count was wrong and they know it. I hope Clay wins a substantial financial claim to make a statement.

Marilyn Shipley | April 19, 2010 11:51 AM

Oh for goodness' sake, how come religion got into it? It does make me laugh how some people (like Joe Miles) believe every single word written in the bible (written by monks centuries ago, some of whom MUST have been telling 'stories'!!). You speak nonsense. We are NOT all God's children at all. We are who we want to be. The fact of this matter is that two people who loved each other, lived together and caused no harm to anyone else were denied simple end of life rights just because they were same sex partners. It's wrong and it's cruel and no religion should EVER wish such cruelty on any person.
And just for the religious amongst ye:- let those of you who are without sin cast the first stone.
And STOP being so cruel.

Is anyone going to do any actual investigative reporting on this story? Or are we to just endure a lot of Limbaugh-esque editorializing about "how awful" it is?

I'm gay, partnered, and as liberal as they come. Still, I'd like to see a REAL news outlet look into this, and interview the government officials, politicians, hospital officials, and everyone involved. All that's out there are a lot of hand-waving "can you believe this" blog entries.

Right now I'm not even convinced Clay and Harold are real people. Let's have some facts!

That is the most disgusting case of discrimination I've seen in a long time. It's criminal and the people who destroyed these two mens' lives should be thrown in jail and NEVER allowed to see their families! Bastards!

36,001 people have relationships outside of the USA and really very likely many, many more.

Jerome Frazer | April 19, 2010 12:04 PM

Although this article lacks what could be important details, the main story itself was enough to make me very angry. That people can be so heartless and ignorant is beyond comprehension. Sonoma County is a major tourist area and if the community just sits back and ignores this horrible incident, then perhaps a major boycott of the region should be organized, until Clay receives a new home, compensation and most of all, a well-deserved apology.


I would like to read this news story from several different journalists and compare. It seems like this news source would pick and choose what they want to print (as all sources would), so it's best not to get all of your info from one place.

Lolen Daugherty | April 19, 2010 1:00 PM

Come on Don. How does a comment like that help get anything done? I am a Catholic. I love my gay friends. I am deeply saddened by what happened to this couple and agree we must find a way to make sure this never happens again.

Are all people the same because they have a description in common? Are all women emotional? Are all Buddhists the same? Are all Germans Nazis? Are all men named Don idiots? Of course not. To say that a person must be Catholic to do this to this couple or blame the victims only exacerbates the hate. Let's all work together to ensure this doesn't happen again. Let's all unite to try to eradicate hate and injustice.

I love people of many kinds of religions, orientations, ethnicities. It's not a Catholic thing Don. I'm not even mad at you, just saddened that you would employ Rush Limbaugh type tactics. I am hoping it is not your intention to offend, that you are merely angry and your senses have momentarily left you. I am hoping that you want hold my hand and walk with me on the road to acceptance and understanding. Peace to you, brother.

How this can be permitted in America is beyond my comprehension! And if it can happen in California, one of the most liberal and open states out there, what hope do people have in states that are more conservative?? The people who perpetrated this atrocity should face criminal charges. I hope at the very least they face civil lawsuits from the surviving partner.

This is really, really sad. D: I wish there were more details though. As wygit pointed out, there are very few actual names and details given. Is there somewhere to keep up on this, what's going on with it?

I agree with comments which suggest looking to further sources for more details. I am looking around in spare moments but so far only have this link. It is to the actual complaint.


UPDATE FROM SITE EDITOR: I see many of you are seeking further information like the men's full names, etc. Their names are Harold Greene and Clay Scull. The name of the case is "Greene v. County of Sonoma et al."

GetEQUAL has put out an action alert in cooperation with National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) asking outraged readers to contact President Obama and ask him to be the "fierce advocate" he promised and repeal DOMA.

You can read a copy of the complaint [pdf] at the NCLR website. Contributor Kate Kendell is the Executive Director of the NCLR.

Veronica Plascencia | April 19, 2010 1:26 PM

i got thru the first 2 -3 sections on this and i was appalled. i have read almost every comment on here and i see the point that everyone tries to make, so here it goes. two partners of 20 years together, try to look in each others best interests by getting all the necessary paperwork lined up. everything gets thrown out the window and the county starts to take control of everything these two men have acquired together. sent to different homes, WHY? was it to keep them apart or because there was no room in the nursing homes county looked into? this is a most painful and sad story people. there was no compassion for these men as all they wanted to do was remain by each others side till the end. We gays have a long battle you know that right? they throw bait to us thinking YES recognized marriage, then NO it gets taken away, now we get pieces such as domestic partnerships and having to register, these are truly great to have but you know what people, WHO SAID THIS? ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL. EQUAL RIGHTS FOR ALL MANKIND. is there a need to clarify men women and gays??? equal rights for all is equal rights for ALL!! i hate that we gays are split apart and you know this reminds me of when african americans were fighting equality too. remember those signs? WHITES ONLY..ETC... THIS IS what i get, heteros and gays, we have a long battle here and i urge everyone EVERYONE that believes for equality for gays to join support speak get involved, dont stop believing you guys. we cannot allow another this sort to tragedy to take place again.

Nona Stens | April 19, 2010 1:59 PM

Sounds like perhaps they should have been tattooed on the wrist with a Hollerith number while they were at it. I am not usually a "blogger" but I have to throw this out there: YES this whole situation was wrong undeniably, absolutely, horrifically wrong...I hope that the specific people who were responsible for the decision to ignore these legal documents are stripped of their own personal belongings at auction (without a choice to decide which personal memories and momentoes to sell or keep) and I hope they lose their jobs, (and a fair bit of money while we are at it.)
If there is a specific "being" in this multiverse of our existence that had some kind of hand in our creation, I don't think that this omnipotent presence intended human relationships to be defined as only: "tab A" and "slot B" specifics. We are all human and our personal love for whichever human we choose should not be denied just because someone (by someone I mean those who publicly denounce any relationship other than man+woman) with more money and clout has deemed it so.
Marriage has been and always will be a partnership that allows two people to commune on all levels of their existence. I see no difference in m+m, w+w, or m+w relaionships., they are all about the true love and care for another person, and should all be treated with equal respect in the eyes of the law.
Now if only my opinion carried more weight than a couple of kb of information.

Oklahoma Kate | April 19, 2010 2:02 PM

How did county and health workers gain control ? Did the couple owe back taxes on the home? Were the couple drawing financial assistance from the county ? There seems to be a few holes left out of the story.

Charles, I think I can answer your questions for you. I am a gay rights activist in Oklahoma, and have researched cases like this extensively. You asked some questions like "How did county and health workers gain control?" etc, and concluded "There seem to be a few holes left out of the story." I beg to diagree. At this point, I've read so many legal cases involving same-sex couple discrimination where laws were blatantly ignored that the missing facts in this article didn't even raise a red flag. I'm friends w/ a Law professor at the University of Oklahoma, and she says she's seen legally legitimate wills and powers of attorney (EXPENSIVELY) aquired by same-sex couples over their lifetime overruled by prejudice judges and juries countless times in court. If all else fails, you can always speculate that the person in the same-sex relationship was not of sound mind.

What people don't understand is this: if you're not in a group that is discriminated against, you have the priviledge of making a will just like anyone else. "Normal" people don't have to worry about their wills being contested after their deaths. HOWEVER If you ARE in a group that is discriminated against, you have to spend more money to get half the legal protection and you have to worry about making your will air-tight because it WILL be challenged upon your death.

Do you understand why gay marriage is necessary now? I'm gay in a place rampant with prejudice, so it is clear to me- nothing but a civil marriage will give me legal protection.

Read this article if you're not convinced, it's one of - literally- MILLIONS. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/19/health/19well.html

Chris Yandall | April 19, 2010 2:39 PM

If we can all cry a few minutes over this, it might make us feel better. Clay and Harold(god rest his soul) got the short end of the stick in life. You don't have a friend for many years and suddenly take leave without some vast void welling up inside. Real people can empathize. Reading the story and the comments makes anyone with common sense feel that justification won't ever exist simply because it's too late. Society is degrading at the hands of our approved social systems for all. Get ready for more of this ... who is allowed to live is going to be more and more controlled in the near future. We simply have a population leaking with exceptions to the rules.

Dennis Azevedo | April 19, 2010 2:46 PM

For those of you looking for the missing details, read the copy of the complaint linked in UPDATE FROM SITE EDITOR: posted above. There’s a lot to read and it is a legal document, so a little hard to wade through, but it’s actually worse than what is listed in the original article. There are comments by some of the defendants listed, as well as details of the way Clay was treated throughout this process. These men not only lost all of their personal possessions, but their two pet cats, Sassy and Tiger, as well. For those of us who are gay, our pets are our children. Can you imagine losing your children?

Boy this pisses me off on the surface. I don't understand what happened here? The story is empty. I need to google it. This kind of thing can happen to the elderly when they are awarded to the state through a custody battle. I witnessed it between my friend's Mother & her sister. The Mom had Alzheimer's. I was there in court with her. Yes, she was awarded to the state because the state doesn't give a crap. They want it off the docket. They make it financially impossible to move on with it. This is not a gay issue, this can happen to anyone.

That was interesting but I want more info.

Squirly Whirly | April 19, 2010 3:12 PM

It's sad, but they should have lied and just said they were brothers. It would have avoided the counties boney grip of bullshit.

As to the comments about the definition of marriage: that, to me, is not the issue here. Yes, legally, a marriage is between a man and a woman. But call it what you will, if these guys had their legal ducks in a row, then they were legally a "couple" whether or not they had a legal "marriage," so this should never have happened to them. Maybe if the gay rights people start fighting for a legally recognized civil union, complete with the legal rights that married men and women enjoy, (or some other name besides "marriage") then they won't receive so much opposition from the conservative community. I'm a conservative Christian who believes that a marriage before God is between a man and a woman only, but I also believe that other relationships should be recognized legally, to prevent other scenarios such as this one.

Mattie Tolley | April 19, 2010 3:27 PM

I am a hetero totally in support of gay marriage but I am not sure that would have solved this problem in general. I am also a single growing elderly. Already there are those among my friends who have set up all the power of attorney ect paperwork for a friend to make decisions when they cannot. So they would be in the same situation as the gay couple. Seems to me the big question is why the legal papers were not respected and what we have to do to see that they are for all people, gay or straight. I hope the surviving gentleman wins billions but it will, of course, never give him back what he has lost. Maybe it will serve notice to arrogant people who do what the hell they want regardless of legalities that they cannot tramp on peoples rights....maybe. z

Rick&David | April 19, 2010 3:31 PM

This is a disgrace! They had the legal paperwork yet the county choose to ignore it. How can any organization and person treat these people the way they did. They should be individually sued and have all their belongings taken away from them including their home. What is the matter with people?

Storm Williams | April 19, 2010 3:35 PM

This has to be the most horrible human rights tragedies I have read in many years.

I absolutely support gay marriage. I believe rights afforded to straight married couples should be extended to GLBT couples. Like Charles Merrill, however, I question the facts of this account. Why? Not because I'm a bigot but because I'm a hospital social worker who does this type of thing (sends patients to nursing homes) every day. I can't even make a referral to a nursing home without a patient's permission (that's a HIPAA violation) let alone attempt to have someone placed against his/her will. I am curious about a number of aspects of this situation.

I'm not an expert on California law, but it is virtually impossible in my home state to confine a person against his/her will to any institution (except prison) when the individual is able to make his/her own decisions. There would have had to be a process of determining that Harold was unfit to make his own medical decisions, appearances in court, MD testimony, etc. Before it gets to that point, the county usually looks for someone appropriate to make decisions for that person. I wonder if the wills/advance directives/POA weren't completed correctly, witnessed, notarized, etc. No hospital social worker worth his/her salt would allow a patient to be institutionalized against his/her will.

That being said, I do not deny that this type of thing happens. I'm just, sadly, suspicious that details were left out to make the story more compelling.

Julian Anderson | April 19, 2010 3:53 PM

Well, well.....all this and more in the "land of the Free". Is it not about time that Americans on the whole woke up to the fact that your so called "democracy" is probably the LEAST democratic state in the whole Western, and I would even go so far as to say "civilised" world. Only YOU can do anything about it. The rest of us just have to sit and listen and watch while you all preach "justice" and wait for you to realise that you "the people" have limited rights, and little representation and are bound into a contract of government created in the 1790's that wasn't intended to be "universal" THEN! Please wake up America! If this were Canada, New Zealand, Australia, the UK, Germany, indeed anywhere else with a system of Government even loosely based in the "Westminster System" there would be not only several MP's, Ministers and Department heads cowering in corners by now....there would also be a public outcry so large that Hell itself would seriously consider denying admittance to the executors of these actions! Your systems may well be inherently flawed but for God's Sake make them work!!!!!
Julian from New Zealand.

I am not from the US and I am not gay, but I am appalled... they are people... first and foremost...as an outsider, it makes me confused by "land of the free"???

As for the off topic discussions here, please, can you just keep ON TOPIC... its not even about being gay!! Its about having made appropriate legal arrangements...and the paternalistic big brother model taking over...a model seen around the world getting stronger as our populations age...

may good sense, and compassionate justice prevail, and may we all be motivated to vote, and speak up in support of better care practices for elderly,frail and ill citizens...

I'm sorry, you are wrong. It has always been considered a religious ceremony.
One of the oldest known and recorded marriage laws is discerned from Hammurabi's Code, enacted in ancient Mesopotamia (widely considered as the cradle of civilization).


Read it for yourself. Don't get me wrong, I am not against gay marriage but don't say things that aren't true.

The States got involved because of children & their legitimacy.

Religion has always been involved in marriage, that is just the simple documented truth. Way before Christianity. Start from that point & change things fairly, there will be a lot less angst for all parties. Why fight two battles when you only need to win one. States are sovereign, make the states change the forms. The Church doesn't recognize heterosexual's unions preformed at the court house. The States shouldn't call it a marriage license. It should be called a civil union license, it's a legal document. I would argue that the term marriage has a religious connotation to it & has no place on a State document. You want a marriage certificate, go get a civil union license as required by law & go to a church of your choice & they will issue you a marriage certificate. The rest of it is just bullshit. Throw the term back into the States face. Call it what you want after you are legal, everyone does anyway.
I don't understand all this hate, God doesn't make junk & you should have the right if you so choose. I know there will be a lot of lawyers smiling...oops, did I say that!

Welcome to how things are done in California! The state, county offices, and the people involved, do not care what they do to people. Try living here sometime, it truly is a police state equivalent to a communist run state. I am here 20 years and just am amazed as to what they get away with.

I feel for this couple, and while he can not recoup what he had, I hope that California gets taken to the cleaners on this

mar·riage? ?[mar-ij] –noun 1. the social institution under which a man and woman establish their decision to live as husband and wife by legal commitments, religious ceremonies, etc.
This is the definition of marriage, note that it states man and woman. Now I would like to state that I have no problem with gay men or women, its there life and they can live there life however they like. I'll say this just like I say it to my gay friends when the topic comes up. You don't call a apple an orange or a plane a car so why do you insist on calling a gay union a marriage? If the gay folk would have just called it what it is from the start there wouldn't be half of the people there are up in arms about it.
Obviously grey you do have a problem with LGBT persons. It is obvious that you believe gay marriage to be less than equal to str8 marriages because you shape equality to fit yourself and then give it the appellation of law.
I am not going to take the time to list all the possible refutations of your point because your view is so full of holes it would take forever. And especially because you base your definition of marriage not on the dictionary but on your own personal beliefs.
Marriage has been defined/practiced/legally recognized in various ways throughout history (one man and multiple wives, etc....) and you know that and choose to ignore it. And that is where your comment betrays you (especially in pulling out a dictionary to make your point. Hey grey? A dictionary is not a Civil Code. Get it?)

Juston I share your outrage in this. The fact that the hospital, county, etc trampled on the rights of these men is absolutely sickening. I myself am a gay man, but I have to agree slightly with Grey. Marriage has long been defined as a union between a man and a woman. While marriage does afford many legal benefits, it's roots are based in religion. While I plan on one day having a husband and family of my own, I have no desire to have a christian marriage. What I don't understand is why we as a minority group are up in arms to attain the right to gay MARRIAGE. It's the word specifically, and this is where I agree with Grey. That word is what has so many people fighting against us. We can have the same rights afforded to us, just using a different word. So many people consider marriage to be a sacred religious practice. And they're religion denounces homosexuality. So why not fight for equal rights using civil union, and give it some fabulous name? Using the word marriage, to me, is to move the debate away from attaining equal rights for the GLBTQ community and moving it into a debate about religious bias against us. Just my opinion and some food for thought. Regardless what happened to this couple is horrifying, and just another reason why we need to stand up as a community and demand equal rights.

Juston Thouron Juston Thouron | April 19, 2010 5:01 PM

Miles, thinking REQUIRES stepping outside of what you believe, in your case heteronormativity and it's privileged status in America. Especially it's enshrinement in the Civil Codes of the US.

Anything less than gay MARRIAGE is less than equal. Let those who oppose gay marriage have their kind of marriage in their kind of church. But keep their dogma out of public policy. If you cannot see this secular point, it is because you don't want to.

On Miles note, I agree 100% with you and my gay friends get so ticked off with me as well when I say lets drop the Marriage word and go for Civil Union Partnership. What the hell do we gay's need to use the word MARRIAGE? Just come up with a word that affords equality and provides the same rights. How about Civil Union Partnership. It would be much more simpler and would not be upsetting to Christians. Often I find that Christians really do not have an issue with gays they just have an issue with gays wanting to use the word Marriage. I am 100% sure we would be much further in equality if the gays would just stop the fight on the Marriage word and move forward with Civil Union Partnership. OK I am off my soap box............

Juston Thouron Juston Thouron | April 19, 2010 10:15 PM

Juston: Marriage for same-sex couples is the only acceptable outcome for us. No civil unions.

Palin: Now now honey. Don't use that word.

Juston: What word?

Palin: You know, marriage.

Juston: Why can't I use the word marriage? You use it. Are you saying just because I'm gay I shouldn't be your equal in America, under the eyes of the law?

Palin: When you get your own national book tour let me know how that equality thing is working for ya, mkay? But no, you don't want to use the word marriage, honey. That's a religious word. You should worry less about the eyes of the law and more about those eyes watching you.

Juston: So the word marriage is only to be used in referring to a religious ceremony, recognized and endorsed by the state? Is that what you're saying?

Palin: You can't separate the man upstairs from the state, silly. He decides what a marriage is. Calling a gay couple married would be like calling an orange red.

Juston: What about blood oranges? They're red?

Palin: Uh ... look honey, you're getting on my nerves. Let's just stick to the topic, mkay? The dictionary is all you need. It says a marriage is "the social institution under which a man and woman establish their decision to live as husband and wife by legal commitments, religious ceremonies, etc." See? So marriage can't be changed to fit two men or two women.

Juston: What about brother and sister?

Palin: ewwwww! See? I knew talking to you was going to get all icky?

Juston: I'm just pointing out that in the buybull gawd had Adam's daughters marry his sons. Would you call that a marriage?

Palin: Well of course not silly. Things were different then. God just created us so everything was kerflewy. Are you trying to confuse me?

Juston: Actually I'm not, I'm trying to find out what you really mean.

Palin: Well good luck with that! I'm a hard nut to crack! C'mon lets debate this some more. We're getting off topic here.

Juston: Well, I'm not trying to debate you I just genuinely want to know something. Do you really want the state to endorse your definition of the word marriage?

Palin: If they don't they're gonna hear more about it from us! Loud and clear! Lock 'n load I always say!

Juston: Well then can I ask you another question?

Palin: You can ask!

Juston: What about all of those other definitions of marriage in the dictionary?

Palin: There's more than one definition for marriage in the dictionary?

Juston: How about this, "the state, condition, or relationship of being married; wedlock.." or "the legal or religious ceremony that formalizes the decision of two people to live as a married couple, including the accompanying social festivities."

Palin: There is more than one! Stupid things, we need to fix that pronto!

Juston: What about all of those other xtians who believe in those other definitions? Like Episcopalians? Are you saying that you want the state to force other xtians to believe the same things that you believe about marriage?

Palin: Hey!? You're smart. How'd you know what I was thinking?


Scorpion Jackie | April 19, 2010 4:51 PM

I had a same sex relationship for 18 years. this story is awful, to the point that I can barely beleive it could have happened that way, but I know injustices DO happen.

I have a different opinion. I think Marriage should not be a goverment "sponsored" decision. I know many couples who have stayed together without all the government perks that were put in place at a time when Dad went to work and Mom stayed home and had kids. Those relationships are built on love and commitment. To me this is the true definition of marriage.

I stand on the side of EQUALITY. Let marriage be about love and commitment and let the government butt out of it. Even if the elderly gentlemen were roomates (as clearly they were not) what gives any government official the right to take property and send people to nursing homes against their will? Even if they were roomates, what gives the govenment the right to keep them from seeing one another?

On a more practial level, shouldnt the hospital have some sort of patient advocate?

Mr Johnson | April 19, 2010 5:07 PM

It's hard to be sympathetic without knowing the details. There are 2 sides to every story. There are a lot of details that are left out. We should all just shush if we don't know the whole story!!

great granny lesbian | April 19, 2010 5:07 PM

Too bad they didn't live in Canada where gays and lesbians can legally marry. This story is horrible! Those poor old men deserved to be together at the end. ONLY IN THE OLD USA!!! sHAME!

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | April 20, 2010 9:40 AM

I know Gay Canadians who will not even transfer planes in an airport in the United States. Brothers and sisters. If you are past 50 consider immigration.

This is a very interesting argument that continually sways between idiocy and farce.
I am in Seattle, WA currently and The Stranger magazine republished this article on it's blog. Since then I've been promoting the facebook group and awareness of the issue with others online.
I'm a little disappointed by the amount of dumbness presented here on this forum. So many people are unhappy about what happened with this couple, in various ways, and most are even trying to bring outside factors into the mix...i.e. religious belief, moral standings, personal considerations in the matter. Stick with the issue at hand and remember that the democratic part of the issue needs to be dealt with not the personal beliefs of individuals unhappy with their lives.
Here is an idea: if you are one of the many tired of seeing this type of manner being instituted amongst the elderly of and gender identity then get off your ass and do something about it. Put aside your personal issues and work towards a common goal; not all people have to like others but åhelping each other with something like this does help.

It's called activism. Start typing, join or create a petition. Donate funds to create a memorial or dogwatch group for such issues.

1. stay focused on what needs to be dealt with.
2. create an action plan that will deal with the issue specifically.
3. stop bitching and DO something about it.

Bruce in Missouri | April 19, 2010 5:52 PM

If any other news outlets have additional details about this case, please post the links here.

If the judge denied Sonoma County's request to make financial decisions on Harold's behalf and only granted limited access to one of his bank accounts to pay for his care, but the county proceeded to ignore the judge and sell his possessions anyway, would Sonona County be in contempt of court?

Also, shouldn't there have been some sort of judicial process before Clay could be involuntarily commited to a nursing home?

The article does not say who made the decisions regarding the disposition of Harold's remains. Where are Harold's remains now? Who was allowed to attend the funeral?

Does anyone know the names of the Sonoma County officials and the judge involved in the case? It sounds like some county officials could be in deep trouble, lose their jobs, and could even go to jail.

Ok - I read the complaint submitted to the court on Harold's behalf. NOW this makes sense. The county was alleging that Harold was cognitively impaired from dementia or delirium and could not make his own financial decisions. That's why they wanted to appoint a conservator/fiducary. What they did wrong, however, is have the very man they stated was unable to make his own decisions sign legal paperwork to request a conservator! THAT is scandalous. The people responsible deserve to lose their jobs. In my line of work (hospital social worker) we NEVER allow a patient who can't make his/her own decisions to sign legal documents. Shame, shame on the county worker responsible for this.

delarosa108 | April 19, 2010 6:09 PM

I think relying on Merriam-Webster dictionary definitions as a basis for an argument regarding a tragedy as needless and horrendous as this is AWESOME.

Thank you, Grey L, for displaying the paper-thin and naive nature of the antiquated arguments against gay marriage so flawlessly.

Whatever I can do to give you more exposure as a right-wing spokesperson and poster-person, just let me know. For now, PLEASE, keep posting. You are living proof that all one needs to do it is actually THINK, and the appropriate stance on some issues becomes obvious.

This article kills me.

delarosa108 | April 19, 2010 6:10 PM

I think relying on Merriam-Webster dictionary definitions as a basis for an argument regarding a tragedy as needless and horrendous as this is AWESOME.

Thank you, Grey L, for displaying the paper-thin and naive nature of the antiquated arguments against gay marriage so flawlessly.

Whatever I can do to give you more exposure as a right-wing spokesperson and poster-person, just let me know. For now, PLEASE, keep posting. You are living proof that all one needs to do it is actually THINK, and the appropriate stance on such issues becomes obvious.

This article kills me.

delarosa108 | April 19, 2010 6:11 PM

I think relying on Merriam-Webster dictionary definitions as a basis for an argument regarding a tragedy as needless and horrendous as this is AWESOME.

Thank you, Grey L, for displaying the paper-thin and naive nature of the antiquated arguments against gay marriage so flawlessly.

Whatever I can do to give you more exposure as a right-wing spokesperson, just let me know. For now, PLEASE, keep posting. You are living proof that all one needs to do it is actually THINK, and the appropriate stance on such issues becomes obvious.

This article kills me.

Sitting here in England reading this chills me to the bone.
It is just astounding how an authority can act so cruelly against elderly people.
It sure makes me glad I live in Europe.
I'm certainly going to put this on my Facebook page.

First off god does not recognise it! he made us all to deal woth obsticles to make us stronger in him & no infact if they both had went through steps to prevent it both needed a power of attorney why did not those persons or person who was to be there if the other died and one was left, there seems to be lots of of loop holes to get something stirred up befor looking into these matters I do not believe in any one being taken advantage of, & on the other hand I & many more surely will not except the remote possibility that even the states all will allow this kinda thing as to being leagally married god made man and woman if we try to change that law he put forth for only that type of marriage, next thing ya know it will be a monkey they learned to talk in sighn laguage to some one to enable some one to keep the ones that do studdies on them to stop & try to marry that!

It's heartbreaking. The willful intervention of another person, or a system, into the lives of people who had no intention of being apart in this lifetime. It's like a baby being snatched from its mother. I just can't imagine, and yet here it is.


Just to weigh in on this discussion I find this story atrocious and I think this is one of the most heinous things I have heard of happening in North America. War crimes aside this is one of the worst cases of prejudice and abuse I've heard. This should be treated in the courts as prejudice towards anyone of religion or race is treated. I am very upset and moved by this story and the appalling treatment both men recieved.

I think one point that has been missed (or maybe not because I did not read EVERYONE'S post) is that I am fairly certain that a power of attorney ceases to exist when the person dies. Therefore, they county clearly acted illegally when both gentlemen where alive, but as soon as Harold died, Clay had no more power in terms of Harold's assets, etc. It is a terribly sad sequence of events no matter how you slice it. Shame on the County and all those who would keep these partners apart.

LGBT, elders' rights, and disability groups should all be getting together to fight the issues of our civil rights and legal paperwork being ignored. These things also happen to disabled people, regardless of age or sexual orientation. This is especially true for severely disabled people, many of whom are stuck in nursing homes because they cannot get accessible housing and reliable, full-time attendant care. Cases such as Smith v. Heckler bear this out. And who remembers, or knows about, Sharon Kowalski and Karen Thompson? We should not have a similar situation happening so many years later.

Though Clay and Harold are gay, this horrific treatment stems from their being part of a much larger group.

They are part of that group who doesn't have family/friends looking out for their interests, maybe has marginal financial means, may have limited/reduced mental capacity, may have limiited knowledge about their rights. Basically, anyone that opportunistic interests, whether governmental or private, see as easy "cash cows".

I've seen this type of situation over and over...both sexes, single/married, straight/gay all races and yes, religions. In the eyes of those after $, it only matters that you're defenseless, a bit under the radar, the perfect prey.

Another thing that may have worked in the favor of Sonoma and the Homes is that many older citizens, mentally-limited citizens and other cultures are taught not to question government, doctors, authority, etc and for that reason may not have said anything to advocates or demanded to speak with other officials.

Sounds like Clay is finally in good, concerned hands. In my mind, the question now is how can we get the support/assistance/guidance to people like Clay, Harold, anyone who could get taken advantage of BEFORE this kind of thing happens? How can we impact/serve notice to $ hungry predators that this type of treatment of ALL peoples will not be tolerated?

Rich Rainbolt | April 19, 2010 6:52 PM

Here are the e-mails of the county board of supervisors members, and the Sonoma Wine Association.

I urge you to write them and let them know that swift action including:

Speak out against the county government's actions so that everyone knows that they personally do not condone this type of act from their local government.
Move swiftly and fairly in trying to undo some of the damage that the county has done.
Insist that all members of the county's government receive sensitivity training so that they can more easily understand what to do, and not to do in such situations.
Speak to their opinion to their friends and associates so that more people can understand what has happened in Sonoma.

I would include some comment about how you are not comfortable vacationing in a county that commits such horrible acts and how you are not sure you can buy wine grown in an area with such disregard for the love between two people.

sara@sonomawine.com, film@sonoma-county.org, pkelley@sonoma-county.org, palberig@sonoma-county.org, bradovan@sonoma-county.org, mkerns@sonoma-county.org, jsaudan@sonoma-county.org, ecarrillo@sonoma-county.org, supchurc@sonoma-county.org, vbrown@sonoma-county.org, jhainsto@sonoma-county.org, szane@sonoma-county.org, jdiaz1@sonoma-county.org

there's clearly a high degree of malice on the part of county officials who took these measures.
they could not have been so cruel without some absolute belief of a religious or pseudo-religious nature that their own beliefs are absolutely right and anybody who doesn't conform to those beliefs deserves to be punished.
is this the american dream? persecuting those who differ from you?

There are many holes in this article that do not make sense. How is it that the county dictated this person's care and what healthcare workers? Were these healthcare workers from a for profit hospital or county hospital? The article is absent in claiming any liability toward the hospital. Was it a nursing home that didn't allow his partner to direct his care? The article mentions he was admitted to the hospital and from that moment their were problems. Advance medical directives are in place for individuals who cannot act on their own so as long as Harold was able to represent himself then Clay wouldn't really have a say. I am confused how the county placed Clay into a nursing home as well. Where Clay lived should not have concerned the county so that makes no sense. All of this is chilling if these are the actual facts. If this started in the hospital then the hospital should be liable as well. But again, I see holes in this article which need to be clarified before everyone gets their shorts ALL knotted up. WE SHOULD HAVE ALL THE TRUE FACTS before making any judgments.

Once you get old you are like a child in the eyes of many. They lost control of their lives based on age and because they had no family to protect them. We have a government agency called "senior and disables services" that can step in and say you are not able to care for yourself and take over. If they believe that you are unsafe or unable to care for yourself then they will take over,and you do not have to get any money from them. If you need care they will take any assets and put you in a home somewhere. If you own a home. they get it, you cannot keep your assets -they take them and then take your social security checks to apply to the cost of care. They get all your assets as well.Not only is this a gay /lesbian issue and argument as to why we need legal same sex marrriage, but it also shows what happens when we age, and the discrimination shown as one gets old.

More information can be found at the Facebook group page dedicated to raising awareness of this tragedy.


i am in utter shock at what happened to that couple it is amazing that our government has such control over our lives that we cant even die with those that we love..it makes no sense.. we go to war at the drop of a hat, but cant seem to keep the tax payers in mind.. It seems the thing this country has right is taxing the crap out of us and then putting peoplein prison..

for instance in a town called Versailles, missouri, USA..

a prosecutor during the same court appearance allowed a child molester to recieve 2 years in prison..what a reliefhe will be out in four months.. then in the next case demanded a guy be sentenced to two 4 year sentences to be ran consecutive to make 8 years because he wrote 3 bad checks to feed his family.. how sad is that.. just proves this country is all about money and not morals anymore..

thanks for reading..

Kathy Todd | April 19, 2010 7:33 PM

This is Outrageous. People are sorely not aware of how county, state and federal laws can take over at the end of your life - especially when you are 'old' or 'infirm' or 'disabled' albiet not adhering to some societal beliefs. These men seemed to have worked out their plan and it was disregarded. Many times it is disregarded by their own families. This should never happen and I so worry about the laws as they pertain to everyone's right to live a dignified and respect life of their choosing. When an accident like this happens where help is needed no one should be controled and mandated by lawmakers (or sometimes just do gooders.)when they have a directive in place. It seems their whole estate and lifestyle was destroyed. We are all living in a supposedly free country and should be able to make choices as long as they do not hurt others. These men were not hurting others and though may have needed people to help when the unexpected accident befell them they did NOT need to lose their rights to make there own choices. I hate where we have come in our intolerance and acceptance of others and our lack of respect for our neighbors as a nation. Kathy

I am so appalled by this story my hands are shaking. I am an attorney, though not in California. I live in DC, where we have had a Human Rights Act which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation for many years, where we had domestic partnership for some time until just recently, we passed legislation permitting gay marriage. Nothing can make this man whole again. He can never be given back what was taken from him. But I hope like hell the County is taken to the cleaners for their actions. I'm not holding my breath, but I can hope. Damn, what is the point of the bigotry and hate?

The definition of marriage doesn't enter into it. You can leave property or assets to someone with whom you have no legal or familial relationship and it's still legally binding. The nature of these gentlemen's relationship is not the county's business and it appalls me to an extreme degree that they were treated in this way. They were taken advantage of because of their sexual orientation but not just because of that. It's a matter of age discrimination as well. The elderly are given the short end of the stick. This case should be a matter of national concern because it is an example of many cases like this and such treatment should not be legal.

I don't understand how this happend. How did they manage to get Clay into the nersing home? Isn't this all illigal? You cant sell some ones stuff 0.o

I am so sorry to read this. No one should be treated this way, especially the elderly. One thing I do know. This did not happen only because these men were gay. Things like this can happen to ANYONE... And it is sickening! I worked in the medical field for nearly 27 years and I witnessed several cases where a spouse had had a stroke or an altered mental state, and a social worker in the hospital took over. In one case the wife could not even take her husband HOME with her to care for. The social worker made all decisions for the husband, and put him in a nursing home. Such a tragic thing to see. Yet some of these things CAN be avoided if couples would get POWER OF ATTORNEY ONE FOR EACH OTHER... This simple decision can make a world of difference when the STRANGERS try to step in and start calling the shots for our loved ones... Think about it, it doesn't take a stroke, or old age to have someone take advantage of a bad situaion. Anyone can be in a car accident, sustain a head injury and be deemed not capable of making decisions for themselves... And there it begins... The FIGHT for who is going to take care of us or someone we love. It's a legal step every one of us should take, to help ensure that someone we TRUST will be making decisions for us that are truly in our best interest. God will deal with those who mistreat people and too those who are unkind. In the meantime, each of us should take the time to pray every day that all of us could find it in our hearts to simply show some much needed human kindness and show a little mercy here and there. Who knows? It only takes a blink of an eye, and tragedy can strike, then WE could be THE ONES IN THIS ARTICLE...

gil martin | April 19, 2010 8:56 PM

California, the bastion of all that is liberal in this country?

Sue the fuckers back to the stone age.

Then start writing, emailing and phoning you local and state
elected officials, most notably the so-call messiah of change
that was so foolishly elected to represent ALL Americans not
just the banks that run the country.

Blame the couple why don't you! Even if the couple 'owed' money to the state you can not just ignore their wishes of consent and sell their belongings without informing them. What has happened is absolutely disgusting and it is about time the USA seperated the Governement from the ill-informed church - maybe then basic human rights can be observed! In the UK I am legally 'married' to my husband so automatically all decisions are his if I am unable to make them, even without a will. Grow some balls USA and give everyone the same rights and dignity!

The definition above comes from where?
The great thing about the human race is that we change the defintion of things all the time.

Just because it is written down somewhere doesn't mean it can't be changed. I'm a married straight man living in Canada. I am thrilled that my gay friends can have the SAME thing I do with their spouses. A legal and real marriage that upholds the same rights as my marriage does. Not something similar, or the same thing but named differently - the same thing.

Does this lessen my own marriage? No. Does it validate and strengthen the rights that my freinds have? Yes. Why is that important? Because they are human beings and have the same rights as me. Equal not less.

If you deny gay marriage then you are saying they are different and have different rights - maybe even less rights. As a Canadian that doesn't sound very American to me.

Isn't America where the individual rights of everyone are more important than that of the state and/or church(es)? Isn't that what any minority in the US strives for? The right to be treated equally?

Equal = Same. therefore Marriage = Marriage regardless of any race, creed or sexual orientation. Deny this and you are pushing Rosa Parks back into the back of the bus.

I find this horrible. It is amazing to me how healthcare officials badger you into obtaining these directives, a Power of Attorney, and other legal documents to make sure things are handled appropriately, only to totally ignore them.

These are not the only people this has happened to and it appears this is becoming a rampant problem in our society. Not just LGBT people either. I have read several stories recently of people being forced from their homes and all their posessions being removed without any consideration or permission to do so just because they are elderly and suddenly in need of medical care.

People continually treat the elderly in this country as if they are already dead. It makes me sick. And these same people forget that they will be old someday too.

this is standard practice in Sonoma County. They ignore the most carefully drawn legal documents and force people to sue to enforce them. This is not the first time that Sonoma County officials with help form supposedly gay non-profits has ignored court orders to comply with powers of attorney and trusts. I hope that this costs them enough to get the bigots kicked out of their social service agancy.

leaving out all the legalities, this is at the least unbelievably insensitive and at worst extreme cruelty. disgusting and tragic.

I'm sympathetic to these guys and what they appparently went through....it just sounds hard to believe that this could happen considering all the precautions they made.
What amazes me is how vitriolic the conversation about this episode got. The hatred and prejudice shown toward anyone of catholic or christian faith seemed to grow with each passing post! I'm a Gay Christian of Southern Baptist roots and believe that we will never end the short sightedness and bigotry unless WE
DO as well. We scream for understanding and tolerance and yet throw religeous slurs and hatred as easliy as any other intolerant bigots.
I pray that these shortsighted, uneducated responses do not represent the majority of gays...Martin Luther King and Ghandi are rolling over in their graves at many in the radical gay movement I fear!

The people involved with this travesty and injustice should be personally held accountable. No excuse for not having common sense in dealing with the situation, no amnesty for them, doing what they were told to do. That would be like giving amnesty to the Nazi's enforcing the 'final solution'.

Keeping my guns and ammo, cause obviously some can't be trusted to do right by others..

Would be rght if those involved suffered the same injustice later in their life....

I think it's sad how the rights of individuals are ignored... and I think and it's even more sad how some people choose to abuse their power. Sometimes I truly believe that we are still in the stone age and that we are sorrounded by BARBARIANS. Everyone deserves rights. When people are marginalized and abused like this, I truly feel embarrassed for those in power, because they clearly SHOULD NOT be there. Whether they hide behind their pre-storic religious beliefs or the law, these are cruel, evil duers who are trying to humiliate, cripple and/or destroy another community just because their sexual orientation is different than their own. Such hate.... if there is a hell, these hipocrites will end up there.... LGBTQ people need protection from these BARBARIANS!!!! So sad we have to co-exist together. SAD!

This story makes me so relieved I don't live in the US. I'm sure most of you are lovely people, but despite your amazing president you still live in the dark ages, surrounded and ruled by hatred.

I would rather have the crime, high HIV-rate, poverty and educational issues my country has. At least I can legally get married to a woman of my choosing when the time comes without fear.

That is absolutely horrible. Gay rights really should be given in all the world. Gay couples deserve to be treated the same as straight people. Prejudices and homophobes really destroy people's lives. I feel so sad for this couple. I have been supporting every single gay rights motion I come across but the world is still too stubborn.

This story should be published in the front pages of all newspapers! To bring guilt and opening of eyes to those homophobes and people scared of the "not normal".

This just makes me sick to my stomach... Why can't people just be able to love and be loved and live their lives without someone stepping in and telling them it's not right... I'm sure they all have done things that people don't like but to steal someones last precious moments of life away from someone that may have lo...ved them them most is just wrong.... I don't care if you don't agree with their lifestyle or not... This is just wrong!!!!!!!!!!! RE-POST

GriffonWriter | April 20, 2010 3:38 AM

I'm not sure if this has already been said or not....

LGBT Brothers and Sisters.... Until We are allowed the legal rights of marriage, when you are getting all your legal documents in order.... Make sure you not only get Power of Atty, but make SURE you get DURABLE Power of Atty!!!! That is the ONLY legal document that will override the hospitals right to keep you away from your sick partner and claim the body for burial/cremation if your partner happens to die!!!!

They even took their cats? Heartless. It really seems that the county acted with some malice here - what is the point in separating them for example? How much would the care have cost that the county took all their possessions to the value of hundreds of thousands of dollars including quite a bit of MGM memorabilia and art that I imagine would go for quite a bit on the open market...

Winning damages won't bring back everything Mr Greene has lost, but I hope he wins his case and a message is sent to all local and national governments that this kind of abuse is exactly why marriage is needed for everyone regardless of their sexuality.

Roy Richard | April 20, 2010 9:34 AM

Not a very loving example that the so-called Christian Community exemplifies … my guess is that they have created God into their own image, which is a sin against their own 1st Ten Commandments! Sad isn't it ...

Bloody-Useless | April 20, 2010 9:55 AM

..So tragic it'll just have to be a Hollywood movie..

This is a truly nauseating event. As a straight, Christian conservative libertarian, I am truly angered by this. The problem is that even if they were married, this would've happened. This is going on all over the country.


The state of California, just like many states, believes that you really don't own your property but you may use it with their permission. The issue is that the government, state and federal, has grown too large and powerful. In its arrogance, it ignores the most basic rights of the individual. If libertarians ran this country, this wouldn't have happened.

People may say that marriage is a religious ceremony, but go to your church and get married without filling out all the government forms and I'll go to the court house and get married, filling out all the government forms and then you tell me which marriage is legal.

As much as people would love to believe this, marriage is not a religious ceremony. In the United States it is a contract formed between two people involving property, insurance and end of life decisions.

I know of people who have been thrown out of the house by their "loving" families. If they find someone of the same sex who loves them and creates a life with them, then they damn well deserve the right to call that person husband or wife!

I am a British gay man living in Spain and I am in a UK Civil Partnership. It's stories like this that reinforce the need for some type of legal recognition of gay relationships. In Spain we didn't need new laws to create fair marraige for all, the lawyers just removed the "between a man and a woman" text from all relevant laws that applied. Apparently all it involved was the removal of 11 words from Spanish laws, and there you have it, equality for all. Anyone who isn't appauled by the laws, processes and attitudes that allow these poor men to be treated like this should examine their own values - it just isn't right. America is a great country, but it doesn't feel so much like the the land of the free and the home of the brave when you read of such injustice.

So typical of a system that denies people their inalienable rights. Reminds me of how any group of people can eliminate and bulldoze people's rights if they creatively want to destroy them! Africans being not completely "HUMAN" as slaves to side step the constitution that "ALL MEN are CREATED EQUAL" and How Jews were literally targeted, shunned and then destroyed! ALL LEGAL!!!!! following the letter of the law! None of these things happened illegally !!

well, what do you have to say about straight couples who aren't married on paper?? My boyfriend and I have the same legal rights legally couples do, becaue we've had a live-in relationship for more than a year ( That's they why it works in Canada, period)if we break up, I'm leaglly entited to my half of the household and we both share equal custody of our children. And, need i say it again, we are not married legally. I firmly believe gays have every right to all the rights and legislations straight couples are, be they married leaglly or common-law. My point is, my boyfreind and i have the same rights as a married couple do, and those rights should extend to gay couples who are common law.

Legally married or not the hospital and everyone else ignored a medical directive.

What hospital was this? I'm an RN in Sonoma County and find this story so shocking. This is a very open & progressive community. My colleagues and I are shocked and very saddened by this story. Everyone I work with works hard to give our patients the most compassionate & ethical care. We all advocate strongly for our patients' rights & autonomy. At least on our unit, the patient defines his/her family, not the county.

Great post and truth. There are many unanswered questions about this situation. However, the article did state that the judge ONLY GAVE the county LIMITED control of the assets.

The only way a person can be forcefully put into a nursing home is if the county had a judge declare the person incompetent. That wasn't mentioned here.

I think the county acted with malicious intent without regard to the LEGAL papers of the couple. The fact that the county went before a judge and claimed the couple were merely "roommates" is an indication of the county's deceit and arrogance.

What will happen is the county of Sonoma is going to pay dearly for this and the taxpayers will get stuck with the bill because of a few buffoons who think they don't have to follow the laws.

And for all of you "hurt" religious class that claim to support gays, BULL-SH*T! You yourselves have ignored the Constitution by allowing the tyranny of the majority to dictate who gets rights and who doesn't.

If you believe in the Constitution, then you have an obligation to fight to uphold it. It also includes your "Freedom of Religion." And don't think that any tyranny of a majority can't take that away.

It has already happened, where the majority has taken away rights to classes of people, circumventing the law of the land, the U.S. Constitution.

God doesn't command religion, man does. Religion is tantamount to Totalitarianism. Religion is the evil that infects the soul, or in your books, "the mark of the beast." And why not? Most all people on Earth believe in some type of religion. What a great way for evil to deceive a whole lot of people at once, as stated in your books.

If the county gets off the hook, then WE THE PEOPLE exist no more. We are subjects of the "State," and will have NO MORE RIGHTS!


District Supervisor: Valerie Brown
Title: Supervisor District 1 - Board of Supervisors

District Supervisor: Mike Kerns
Title:Supervisor District 2 - Board of Supervisors
or jsaudan@sonoma-county.org

District Supervisor: Shirlee Zane
Title:Supervisor District 3 - Board of Supervisors
or jdiaz1@sonoma-county.org

District Supervisor: Paul Kelley
Title:Supervisor District 4 - Board of Supervisors
or bradovan@sonoma-county.org

District Supervisor: Efren Carrillo
Title: Supervisor District 5 - Board of Supervisors
or supchurc@sonoma-county.org

Though this is an emphasis on an homosexual couple...and the debate goes on to what is technically and legally a marriage, I think something deeper and scarier is going on here. If these 'social' workers can do whatever they want to whoever they want, then we are ALL endangered one way or another.

This is scary.

So very sad...to be kept away from your partner of 20 years because of society's ignorance and yes, prejudice.

I wish him luck in his lawsuit, and I hope his attorneys don't let the county delay until his health declines - they will try to stall until he dies and then they'll think they are off the hook.

I agree with other posters that there seems to be some malice here - even if all they could prove was that they were roommates for 20 years, why keep him away from his friend, roommate, companion of 20 years in his last days? The poor man probably died of a broken spirit and heart - I cry for them both.

I cannot imagine being kept away from my husband of 20 years at this kind of time, and neither should gay couples have to fear this. The law MUST change so that this never happens again, and penalties MUST be enacted so that the penalty for ignoring people's legal rights is so difficult no one would DARE repeat this CRIME. Yes, emphasis is on purpose - this was a CRIME!

Thank you, I wrote to the Board of Supervisors in outrage.

Wow. There has been a lot written in here. So many passionate views.

It is completely unconstitutional to ban same sex marriage.

I was disturbed to read Neil's comment a bit back. He says "Right after Prop 8 passed, I fired the one Mormon worker I had on my staff, and I'll never hire another one."

Neil, how can you live with, and condone, perpetuating the same hatred we are trying to fight? It is sick.

Also, I fight with lumping Christians all together. I have been hurt by family members, friends and people I don't even know, using religion as a weapon to take away rights and hurl insults. These are the ones I remember. It is easy to remember only the ones that have hurt me, they leave the mark.

There have been so many more Christians in my life and who are not directly in my life who have showed me love and understanding. Those who have used Christ's teachings to live in this world in a kind manner.

As with many gays, I know, it is hard to remember the good people in our lives who do consider themselves Christian. We need to do that. I am sure there have been many more people in all of our lives who are kind, compassionate and welcoming than are hurtful. We need to make that separation. Otherwise we are part of the problem. We need to remember that Christians who use religion as a weapon DO NOT speak for all Christians.

mike jones | April 20, 2010 1:24 PM

I can not believe my eyes when I read this story!

How can something like this just happen!?

My intuition and reason tell me that what the County of Sonoma did was horribly immoral, if not illegal.

Why are we still dealing with this issue?

Broken Heart

Dear Clay:

Take those homophobic, immoral, heartless, evil fucking sub humans to the bank! Get them for all they're worth. Sue them out of house and home!

Karen Hudlow | April 20, 2010 2:27 PM

Do you really think the officials would have ignored a marriage license?! Of course not! If this kind of thing has happened to a legally married straight couple, I would like to hear about it.

How sad that some should judge how others live...

Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is in an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob, and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.

Frederick Douglass, Speech, April 1886
US abolitionist (1817 - 1895)

Harold and Clay may you have the best revenge when you join your union of love for each other in the heavens.we here will pick up the gauntlet you leave behind and fight the "GOOD" fight.

Hey Grey, it's telling that you use the dictionary
to define "marraige" but not "there". "There" means "in that place". "THEIR" means "belonging to". Like in "marriage".
My point? You have to be a really stupid smuck to use a dictionary to define a basic right and not use it to make your point.
Try using it to look up human "decency" you entitled ahole.

I'm curious, what would happen if two straight non married people had been in the same situation? Would they automatically have been common law married, and the "healthy" partner having automatic rights over shared property?

Jorge Anderson,PhD. | April 24, 2010 6:13 PM

This is happening to the elderly across this country. It is not an issue that just affected Harold and Clay its happening to the elderly no matter if they are straight or gay. I am a gay son of a parent who my straight brother along with the guidance of my mother's sister who was a senior Social worker in Washington DC. My Aunt worked with the Judge's mother. Its a racket and its happening to everyone not just gay people. I have had to go through this because my brother stole my mother's mail and despite her giving me a durable power of attorney. We were subjected to illegal action of the court by a Judge who had no concern for the Constitution which she was supposed to apply in NJ Constitution article one Section 7 which states a clear right to privacy. My brother is the one who should be in jail but instead its my mother who bears the brunt of isolation.
I wish people would realize this is much bigger than a gay marriage issue. this is about the individiuals right to choose who they want. This is much more primary than Marriage.
I would like to see if we can get the government back to recognizing the individuals choice then we would not just be fighting for just "Gay Marriage" The issue is Elder abuse of Our elderly not just Gay elderly but also parent of Gays. My brother Halcott Greaves says "Faggots have no rights" and thus far his statement which was made in NJ is true across the USA because just look at the latest Victims Harold and Clay. My Mom Alvahteen Anderson sits in a Nursing home inprisoned because her oldest son stole US Mail to start his round of eler abuse which has gone on since 2004

Michael Garity | April 20, 2010 3:44 PM

This case, if it is true, is the touchstone case, the Rosa Parks and the Roe v. Wade for Marriage Equality all rolled into one. Even with directives and documents - nothing short of full marriage equality must be the goal for us. The option of a civil marriage should be a civil right of all citizens of the USA regardless of sexual orientation. When people can't understand why we need this - I hope they can be reminded of this case. I hope Sonoma is bankrupted by this case. I hope they make Clay this year's SF Pride Grand Marshall. I hope there is a march planned on the Sonoma County court house and I hope HRC and yes, even the White House pay attention to what has happened here and TAKE ACTION!

I'm a christian and am not in favor of gay marriage but, if it were to happen I kind of agree with this thought. It is offensive to me to tack the word marriage onto a gay union but, if everything recognized by the federal and state governments was a civil union and the term marriage were left to men and women uniting under God I'd find that more reasonable. However, you and I both know that's not enough for either side. Because the argument goes deeper than just federal and state rights in relation to a lover- it's about the redefining of a society. I believe this society will be changed to the favor of many on this site but, from my point of view it will not come with out consequence and we all endure the consequence in support of the change or not. So, in a farely passive way, namely with my vote, I will continue to oppose knowing that in the long run, for a short time, I'll end in the minority. It's not that I want this man's story to happen to people on a regular basis- I don't and I do feel sorry for him. It's aweful to think he'd been denied seeing the dearest person to him at the end of that person's life and it's traggic that his rights that *are* in place legally were trampled on. But, if we're discussing gay marriage as a general topic apart from this man's specific experience my opinion isn't swayed by this story. There are other ways to make sure everyone is treated decently w/o redefining basic societal structure. I'm never in favor of someone being treated poorly for the choises they make, but, I'm not in favor of redifing certian ways of life to accomidate every choise that people choose to make. OK- go ahead and eat me and my comment alive. . .probably won't be back to read responses anyway;)

Renee, I do not think that God would be upset with a word (marriage) being used by any of his children who what to be seen by a secular government as equal in their love of another human. I do think that Christ said "Blessed are they that have been persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Why do people who profess to be "Christians" not follow his teachings and continue to persecute for righteousness sake, those that he never condemned himself.

Doesn't matter about marriage or gay rights.. what matters they had a legal binding agreement..They were each others executors of their estate...period..That is like the state taking over your parent, sister, brother, friend, estate if your executor ..any kind of relationship shouldn't matter. You don't have to be related or married to be in charge of someone's estate.. it's a horrible situation

This is a perfect argument for why gays should be allowed to marry. These two people were treated like second-class citizens.

Okay, so I passed this on to my facebook page and got responses back from friends saying there is more to the story here than what is being presented. So I am not sure what to believe:

"From Travis: "At first I was outraged by this (and mostly still am), but today I heard from the county counsel in Sonoma that Clay called in the county authorities because Harold was abusing him. The county stepped in and separated the two, as the county would do for any elderly domestic abuse case. The full facts will come out in the court case, but there seems to be more going on here than the NCLR is publicizing.""

At this point, I am not sure what is true, but I did remove it from my facebook page and contacted friends who had added it as well to retract my statement.

Either way, it's still a sad story in my book.

Lol, are you sure the Catholics are your friends?

Read this article. The Pope wants to blame pedophilia on gay people!


Can we also just add the fact that you left out the "b" definition. Let me correct you since you feel a dictonary can support your ignorance.


1.a.the social institution under which a man and woman establish their decision to live as husband and wife by legal commitments, religious ceremonies, etc.
b.a similar institution involving partners of the same gender: gay marriage.

Funny how people leave out what they don't like to support their own beliefs.

Can we also just add the fact that you left out the "b" definition. Let me correct you since you feel a dictonary can support your ignorance.


1.a.the social institution under which a man and woman establish their decision to live as husband and wife by legal commitments, religious ceremonies, etc.
b.a similar institution involving partners of the same gender: gay marriage.

Funny how people leave out what they don't like to support their own beliefs.

I just read through the document describing the lawsuit:


They took their cats.

It seems that Clay and one Janette Biggerstaff, the executor of Harold Scull's estate, have indeed filed a wrongful imprisonment claim for Mr. Clay as part of their suit.

The county took their cats, even having one of their men throw Clay to the ground (so the lawsuit claims), when Clay protested.

There is additionally a claim of emotional abuse in the lawsuit. The document states that the county & nursing home employees hurled antigay epithets at Clay.

The lawsuit also includes claims of elder abuse, and elder financial abuse.

And, they took Howard and Clay's cats. The cats' conditions and whereabouts are unknown.

Forgive me if this has already been suggested, (365 comments is a strong read!) but I won't buy wine made in Sonoma County for at least a year. Why should my sales tax go to support that local gov't.

this makes me sick to my stomach. caring for my elderly father, i've come to realize how much advocacy the elderly need. to think of these men, cut off from one another, and ill is heart wrenching. and it's a tragic state of affairs, and a disgrace to california.

THIS is EXACTLY why marriage equality is so important. I have been with my partner since 1998. In 2002, after we purchased a home together in SF, my partner was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. I worked 10 hour days and spent nights at his bedside in the hospital. When he came home I administered his chemo every three hours through an IV. He recovered from the cancer and in 2006 we moved to Dallas, TX for a job he was interested in taking. Less than a year later he suffered a stroke. When we were in the ER I was told by the attending physician that; "You aren't in San Francisco, you're in Texas. You are only a friend here, not anything more." I was told I could not receive any information on his condition unless it was through his family. I was also threatened with being barred from the hospital should his family decide I wasn't welcome. His mother and sister knew me and told the hospital that I was in charge of all decisions. They denied the request because we didn't have the legal papers signed prior to the event. After he was released and after researching the documents we needed we paid an attorney $4,000.00 dollars to get ourselves covered should anything else happen. We returned to California in time to get married prior to Prop. * and considered ourselves "safe" from any further problems. Now, I read this story and realize we still can't be sure we are protected from the vultures in this ridiculous world we live in. My heart aches for Clay and my prayers are with him for swift justice. I hope it comes so

THIS is EXACTLY why marriage equality is so important. I have been with my partner since 1998. In 2002, after we purchased a home together in SF, my partner was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. I worked 10 hour days and spent nights at his bedside in the hospital. When he came home I administered his chemo every three hours through an IV. He recovered from the cancer and in 2006 we moved to Dallas, TX for a job he was interested in taking. Less than a year later he suffered a stroke. When we were in the ER I was told by the attending physician that; "You aren't in San Francisco, you're in Texas. You are only a friend here, not anything more." I was told I could not receive any information on his condition unless it was through his family. I was also threatened with being barred from the hospital should his family decide I wasn't welcome. His mother and sister knew me and told the hospital that I was in charge of all decisions. They denied the request because we didn't have the legal papers signed prior to the event. After he was released and after researching the documents we needed we paid an attorney $4,000.00 dollars to get ourselves covered should anything else happen. We returned to California in time to get married prior to Prop. * and considered ourselves "safe" from any further problems. Now, I read this story and realize we still can't be sure we are protected from the vultures in this ridiculous world we live in. My heart aches for Clay and my prayers are with him for swift justice. I hope it comes so

C.R. Cloward | April 20, 2010 11:10 PM

The fact that you apparently don't know the difference between their/there, its/it's accentuates your pathetic lack of understanding of this "situation." Your flip use of the "some-of-my-best-friends-are-gay" paraphrase makes it apparent you are an ignorant homophobe.

What actually scares me is that the leagal paperowrk, power of attorney and living wills, ect were all ignored. Many are takign this as yet another reason why marriage between same sex couples should be legalized, for protection. And I defiantely agree. HOWEVER, who is to say that the same thing could not happen to a heterosexual married couple? What is truly appaling is the fact that the legal paperwork and the rights of the people involved were violated. Especailly holding someone in a nursing home against their will. I work in health care and the patient bill of rights states that the patient always has the right to REFUSE CARE. HOlding someone in a nursing facility against their will, unless their is dementia or some other mental reason why the individual cannot speak for themself, is a violation of this right. Yes, this is on top of the numerous other rights and legal papers the hospital, nursing home, and county all violated.

Revolutionarybum | April 21, 2010 3:36 AM

Just another example that religion IS the real so called mythical Anti-crist... If they hadn't spent so much time flapping their pustule gobs about the evils of this and the evils of that. I'm so F**Cking SICK of this So called Democracy, I vote the name be changed to the "united Corporations of america" This is just a small peek at the inhumane title wave that going to come!

Was there a HIPAA waiver signed as a part of their medical directives and on file naming each as authorized to receive information on the other? If there wasn't the hospital wouldn't release any information to Clay regarding Harold and it has nothing to do with whether they were married. The article makes no mention of HIPAA which is a gorilla of a law.

Michele Tennant | April 21, 2010 12:51 PM

I have five words for you, Separation of Church and State.
Yes, you can be married in a church of your choosing, but you still have to file for a legal marriage license. That license is a matter of the state, the government, not the church. You can also be married at the justice of the peace and cut out any reference to god in your vows. This ceremony is also perfectly legal and accepted.

What gives anyone the right to say two people of the same sex can not be married based on religious beliefs. It's just as stupid as when a congressman thumps a bible and says public money should never be used to fund abortion. That bible should have nothing to do with whether the government should help fund a medical procedure which was determined by the supreme court to be legal.

As long as two individuals are old enough to legally consent, they should have the legal right to marriage. I'd also like to mention I am not gay. I say this not because it would bother me if someone assumed I was, but to make it clear that there are plenty of straight people who think gays deserve the same rights that we do. This is just as backwards as having black people ride in the back of the bus. ALL PEOPLE should be equal.

Linda Maloney | April 21, 2010 1:47 PM

I am horrified - but sadly - not surprised. We have become a nation of racists of all types. The teabaggers are racist because our President is African American. We have politicians who are openly racist against gays. We are running headlong towards total annilation becasue we can't seem to get our heads out of our backends!!

dave stonebert | April 21, 2010 4:09 PM

who cares, none of my bussiness, we are not to interfere with high government officials who know better than the rest of us what we want

Too many comment here for me to read so I doubt many will read this...I read the entire pleading.

If it is correct, the county officials decided each of these men were incompetent and unable to arrange their own affairs, and instead of asking a court to agree (which would require a doctor;s evaluation, testimony, the opportunity to have a lawyer and contest it in person) they pressured them into signing a declaration making the County their conservators. If the county is correct in assessing their condition, such an assignment is meaningless since they are unable to make the decision as to who should be conservators.

And I was stuck by the allegation that they seized all the possessions and household goods, the truck, all the money and left Clay Greene on the premises for two days without even a bedroll! How could they possibly justify that?

I would think both of these allegations are very simple to determine, they are clear and factual based, the facts can be readily established. If just that much is true, then there is no question about the liability of the county.

For those who said "that can't be there are laws in California..." etc., that's exactly what the lawsuit says -- that these people violated specific provisions of numerous laws.

In a straight partnership, a man and a woman living together for a period of twelve months are considered to have a common law marriage. This is a legally binding agreement in which your taxes, benefits, and finances are tied together. Why is it that a gay couple cannot have the same legal protection? Furthermore, if you will consider common law partners of the same sex "only roommates" then there should be an alternative option to this.... say LEGAL MARRIAGE.
Tough concept: people have been openly gay for enough years, governments need to open their eyes and realize that by obstructing these couples from the joy of marriage, problems are arising, and the gay community is still strong and proud. Turning a blind eye does not make us dissapear, it only pisses us off.
I live in a place where gay marriage is completely legal, and guess what? The world hasn't ended, walls haven't come crumbling down, and men and women are protected from horrifying incidents such as these.

I don't know where you're from, but your information on common law marriage is totally wrong. http://bit.ly/bKQHdo

It's only presently legal in 9 or 10 states, grandfathered in for a few others, not recognized by the IRS, or by the State of California.

This comment has been deleted for violation of the Terms of Service.

While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising.

This story is so full of bull funky that I fail to see how the author can sleep at night. Get the facts from a true journalistic source:


However, I will agree that it's a sad situation all around. But seriously, Kate you should be ashamed of yourself for writing this crap.

just a point of view from a dutchman,

here in the netherlands marriage has become open to people of the same gender over a decace ago and honestly I don t really get all the remarks on how marriage is defined as being something for a man and a woman. the netherlands is a country which seperates state and church, as such people get married before the state, religion has got nothing to do with it. if people are religious they may have a second ceremony in a church, but only the one at the town hall is valid state-wise.
the dutch constitution says it is against the law to discriminate therefor it is only logical that all people may have the right to marry, regardless of gender.
I truly hope for the gay and lesbian community in the US that you ll be given the same human rights as the lgbt community here.
this whole discussion here on this part of the atlantic is a total non-issue and franly i am appalled that gay and lesbian folks can still be treated in such a manner in the US.

kind regards, jon

the heartbreaking thing about this, is that it doesn't matter if the judge rules in his favor or not, he will never have his life back and no amount of money or condolences is going to heal this wound. I have a feeling that this will never stop hurting. :(

Phillip Vu-Tran | April 21, 2010 8:55 PM

I was so upset when I heard this on CBC Radio One, As It Happens (19 April 2010).

I cannot believe this is still happening in today's world.

This is gross injustice and extreme prejudice. I wonder where the Social Work team was at the hospital in question, nor any other medical staffs around when this occured ie PT, OT, Nursing staff, Social Work, direct care staff and the medical specialist himself/herself.


Many gay people work in the wine industry in Sonoma county, where we are accepted and don't have to hide in the closet. Two thirds of the Sonoma county voted for marriage equality. So please don't punish Clay and the rest of us who live here and vote for equal rights, just to punish a few county workers who may (or may not) have acted out of malice.

I have been reading some people are talking about boycotting Sonoma county. Even if some people acted out of malice, this is no reason for boycotting the entire county, where marriage equality is supported by two thirds of the voters. There are a lot of gay people in Sonoma county trying to make a living, and many gay establishments where gay tourists can stay, making sure their gay dollars support gay people and causes. While it is not Utopia, it ain't Kansas either. So don't hurt gay people and our supporters in an attempt to punish a minority of the county residents who cling to their religious based prejudice. Lets hold anyone and everyone who may have acted out of malice responsible, but remember Clay and many other gay people live here, and we have many straight supporters. So come drink the wine, play in the Russian River, hike in the Redwoods, and stay in gay resorts around Gurneville, and see why Clay and Harold chose to live here.

thats really sad i think that no matter who it is or who ever they love they should be there with their loved ones at their time of need regartless or race, wealth, sex and so on its a shame the world has come down to this and no matter what nothing will make this ok

I consider myself a liberal. I have been a nurse for 44 years in the state of California and can honestly say I have NEVER seen a visitor denied visitation rights unless they are drunk, disorderly or brandishing firearms (I have seen this!) Even in intensive care, these days, friends and family are allowed in,albeit just for a few minutes. How would anyone even know who was gay, straight or indifferent when they came to visit? This whole things sounds more like elder abuse and money oriented. Lets face it, if you cannot pay your bills, you will be stripped of everything, including your dignity.

Kimberly Frantz | April 22, 2010 1:51 PM

Amendment 4 - The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

attainder n. The loss of all civil rights by a person sentenced for a serious crime.

apparent adj. According to appearances, initial evidence, incomplete results, etc.; ostensible rather than actual.

reality n. 1. Something that constitutes a real or actual thing, as distinguished from something that is merely apparent. 2. The loss of all civil rights by the victims of serious crimes. 3. State of affairs.

deprive v. 1. To take something away from; divest. 2. To keep from the possession of something. (example: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures).


Do not exploit the poor because they are poor and do not crush the needy in court, for the LORD will take up their case and will plunder those who plunder them. He who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and he who gives gifts to the rich—both come to poverty. Proverbs 22:22-23,16

And the King will answer and say to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” Matthew 25:40

But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born. Matthew 26:24

Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Matthew 12:12

Then I said to them, “If it is agreeable to you, give me my wages; and if not, refrain.” So they weighed out for my wages thirty pieces of silver. And the LORD said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—that princely price they set on me. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the LORD for the potter. Zechariah 11:12-13

Then Judas threw down the thirty pieces of silver in the temple [that princely price they set on Me] and departed, and went and hanged himself. Matthew 27:5

Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death. Proverbs 11:4


“Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” John 8:4-5

“Whatever you did (NIV), when you did it (NLT), as you did it (ESV), to the extent that you did it (NASB), My brothers and sisters, you were doing it to Me! In solemn truth I tell you that in so far as you rendered such services to one of the humblest of these My brethren, you rendered them to Myself (WNT).” Matthew 25:40

***He bore our sorrows (Isaiah 53:5), became our sin (2 Corinthians 5:21), and braved our shame (Hebrews 12:2)***

And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” Then He said to another, “Follow Me.” Luke 9:58-59 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Luke 9:23

“I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” John 8:12

The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. Matthew 6:22

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints. Ephesians 1:18

I find it interesting that Grey starts a debate on the offense with a statement that does not support gay people in marriage. Then Gray tries to say that gay people are not understanding the issue at hand by using the definition of marriage that suits Grey and the straight ideal of marriage. Then when people make great argument against what Grey has said, Grey tries to turn it around on them by becoming defensive and saying they should spend this energy on fighting for equal rights. Does anyone see the hypocrisy and ignorance in this. So typical of the straight community to make an ignorant and homophobic comment and then turn it around on the gay community when they take offense. Grey might as well say, "well if you didn't choose to be gay you wouldn't have to deal with this."

You made a comment that heated people up Grey, so own it. Why does the straight community seem to never own any of their ignorant comments or mistakes? Don't turn around and try to tell gay people what they need to do after you have told us that we don't understand or deserve what straight people take for granted. You can't tell gay people they don't deserve the same things as straight people and then turn around and pose as an advocate of gay rights, or worse telling gay people what they need to do to get equal rights.

Why is it that regardless of how good an argument gay people make, straight people will always try to tell us we "just don't understand the issue at hand." Do they really believe they know what is best for us better than we do? It's almost as if they see gay people as small children who simply need guidance and don't know what is in their best interest for themselves. We just know what we WANT and how could we possibly know what is good for us without the straight majority TELLING us what is good for us or what we need.

We are not your children. We don't need your wisdom and guidance. We are your equals and should be given the respect, dignity and equal rights that you give to those you see as your equals.

This has nothing to do with being Gay. I worked in a nursing home for about 5 years before I decided it was not for me.
The stat does that to married couples as well. Mybe if the shared a bank account like married people do the could not have taken the money.
The state will always uses up all assets before it sends a penny to a nursing home.

The story is sad but i seen it one two many times

WestOfDenmanGuy | April 23, 2010 3:12 AM

I'm a gay man, but I have a big problem with Kate Kendell's original article. How can she omit Sonoma County's assertion that Harold Scull TOLD THEM that he fell down the stairs after Clay Green assaulted him? This is not a small detail. This is the difference between an everyday accident and an assault causing death. The intentional omission of this important detail indicates to me that this article is slanted beyond all credibility.

malcolm mcintyre | April 23, 2010 10:49 AM

what a disgracefull country america is. who the hell would want to live there.

Maria Derzsak | April 23, 2010 1:23 PM

Well said!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

How sad that some should judge how others live...

Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is in an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob, and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.

Frederick Douglass, Speech, April 1886
US abolitionist (1817 - 1895)

I think every single person involved with every thing that was perpetrated on the couple should be tried in a court of law, outside the county in which the crimes were committed, by a jury of their peers, all of whom live outside the county in which the crimes were committed, for anything we could possibly throw at them.

And, I hope they are all ashamed of themselves. I know I am ashamed to be a part of a system that would allow that to happen to anyone.

WestOfDenmanGuy | April 23, 2010 10:59 PM

“diligent efforts…tragically…continued to treat Harold like he had no family…outrageously…adding further insult to grave injury…compounding this tragedy…dedicated and persistent court-appointed attorney…”

This article is full of what we in the writing biz call "loaded language." This article is manipulative. This article has an agenda. This article is anything but "fair and balanced."

The LGBTQ community deserves better.

Juston Thouron Juston Thouron | April 24, 2010 12:08 AM

Apparently WestOfDenmanGuy, the major part of your complaint is the use of adjectives in news reporting. Where you are not offended by them, 'further insult' was in fact added to 'grave injury' when considering the number of steps it took to commit all of these crimes against Harold and Clay in fact 'compounding' this 'tragedy.'

I do not know what to think about your representation of yourself as being in the 'writing biz' but the more pertinent question is, are you in the 'news biz?' There is of course an enormous difference between the two. First, because if you are in the 'news biz' then that may explain your use of Fox News propaganda: "Fair and Balanced." Second, because if you are in the 'news biz,' then you would know that "It is possible to express an opinion about the news and still cover the news responsibly." (Quoted from video linked below) After all, Walter Cronkite and Edward R Murrow did it.

While Kate's article expresses opinions about this news, from court filings it appears to be reliably accurate reporting. The report of Clay assaulting Harold has yet to be verified: http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2010/04/20/sonoma-county-officials-clay-assaulted-harold

Also, the potential entrance of domestic assault issues into this story mitigates nothing in the perpetrators' treatment of Harold and Clay and in no way invalidates Kate's reporting of this story.

All of the above does, however, invalidate your weak attempt to portray her language as 'loaded' while successfully condemning yours as such.

For your educational needs, I offer you the brief video below regarding the relationship between news reporting and reporters offering their opinions on the news. I am certain it will help what ails you: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3LUid0IZ2w

WestOfDenmanGuy | April 24, 2010 2:45 AM

Juston, my complaints were a follow-up to my previous comment about Kate's article being slanted:

"I'm a gay man, but I have a big problem with Kate Kendell's original article. How can she omit Sonoma County's assertion that Harold Scull TOLD THEM that he fell down the stairs after Clay Green assaulted him? This is not a small detail. This is the difference between an everyday accident and an assault causing death. The intentional omission of this important detail indicates to me that this article is slanted beyond all credibility."

I used the Fox moniker "fair and balanced" as an ironic jab. As a proud member of the LGBTQ community I expect people advocating for me to be fair and their writing to be reasonably balanced. Ignoring the fact that Harold Scull blamed Clay Greene for his fall is unfair to Harold Scull. Remember there are 2 gay men in this story: one man who DIED after falling down the stairs, and another man who was blamed (by the other) for said fall.

WestOfDenmanGuy | April 24, 2010 3:38 AM

And how can you say, "the potential entrance of domestic assault issues into this story mitigates nothing in the perpetrators' treatment of Harold and Clay and in no way invalidates Kate's reporting of this story?"

Knowlege of the alleged assault would color every single one of Kate's statements. Take for example,
"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." If there is reason to believe (not even proof) that Clay meant to intentionally harm Harold, Clay has no legal rights over Harold.

"Based on their medical directives alone, Clay should have been consulted in Harold's care from the first moment." Sorry, Clay, who Harold said knocked him down the stairs should be consulted first? Not likely.

Do you see where this is going, Juston?

When someone accuses another of abuse, the accuser gets the benefit of the doubt, not the alleged abuser.

Juston Thouron Juston Thouron | April 25, 2010 1:24 AM

You avoided dealing with most of my points so I'll just make my reply brief.

"Innocent until proven guilty."

"Do not report anything that cannot be verified."

"Update as verified details become available."

Do you see where this is going?

WestOfDenmanGuy | April 26, 2010 3:03 PM

"Innocent until proven guilty"
This only applies to criminal charges. In allegations of abuse, suspicion is enough to remove the vulnerable party and restrict access.

"Do not report anything that cannot be verified."
The allegations against Clay Greene and the decisions made by Harold Scull were in the public record. Greene's advocates knew this and yet chose not to report it because it weakens their case.

"Update as verified details become available."
See above.

Juston Thouron Juston Thouron | April 28, 2010 4:05 PM

Your ultimate point seems to be that Kate should have mentioned the single allegation of domestic abuse against Clay. Perhaps it would have been better if she had.

But consider the following: Harold Scull died of congestive heart failure, not injuries. Yes Scull filed a complaint against Greene. But he showed signs of dementia and reduced mental capacity. Have you ever been around someone who has even mild dementia? They can act completely typical one minute and become irrational another. It is not unreasonable that Harold suffered an episode where he briefly became paranoid and wrongfully accused Clay of abuse, even after falling. There was no follow up by authorities, no other evidence of elder abuse. None That is how I can say, "the potential entrance of domestic assault issues into this story mitigates nothing in the perpetrators' treatment of Harold and Clay and in no way invalidates Kate's reporting of this story."

We do not know if elder abuse happened and apparently the authorities of Sonoma don't either because there was no further investigation. Why should Kate report on something that has yet to be verified?

Yet you impute motivations to her reporting as if they were facts. There is nothing here to justify your accusations that Kate's article is "slanted beyond all credibility" "manipulative" "has an agenda" and "is anything but "fair and balanced.""

At least you used the word "alleged." But you would want Kate to "color" intentionally every aspect of her reporting based on an accusation that is unverified and not supported by any facts?

All I am saying is that as regards the issue of domestic abuse, we do not know that it happened and Sonoma authorities apparently cannot prove or even show that it did.

Sorry, you're reasoning is off.

It is difficult to pronounce so simply on the exact nature of all the facts and circumstances. However the men were kept apart despite their will and that is what is so heinous. Clearly they would have been treated differently if heterosexual couple. They would have had more choices.
There is only one solution to this - a common goal and the development of a unified LGBTQI movement seeking equality though the much needed amendment to the CIVIL RIGHTS ACT - you can read more on the site lezgetreal (search PINK PRINT ) mel

WestOfDenmanGuy | April 24, 2010 11:43 PM

Melanie, I agree with you 100% when you say, "There is only one solution to this - a common goal and the development of a unified LGBTQI movement seeking equality though the much needed amendment to the CIVIL RIGHTS ACT" This is absolutely essential.

But our LGBTQI community needs to be prepared for the "for better or for worse" aspect of 100% equal marriage. When Queer marriage is equal to straight marriage we will truly know its joys and blessings. But we will also know all the disappointing, messy, horrifying and sometimes tragic things that straight couples deal with every day in America. Some straight people abuse their spouses, some straight spouses abuse their children, some straight people lie to their spouses, some straight people cheat on their spouses, some straight people kill their spouses. Terrible heart-breaking things happen in straight marriages and we are fooling ourselves if we think Queer marriages will be any different. We need to be prepared for this. The firestorm/circus swirling around the case of Harold Scull and Clay Greene is telling me we are sadly ill-prepared.

Has anyone reading this article read the follow up that shows that Harold was attacked by Clay and that Harold had his own lawyer in place from the separation up until the time of his death?

Why does this article not mention at all that after his fall Harold claimed that Clay had assaulted him, causing his fall and the injury the ultimately led to this death? Was Clay put in a nursing home because he had drug/alcohol/mental health issues? The state doesn't just place someone in a nursing home (to the tune of thousands of dollars per month), else half the ill homeless folks in the state would be getting such care. So what was Clay's condition and why did it only appear after his partner alleged abuse? Was a protection order issued against Clay after Harold's allegation of domestic abuse? Tell the whole story!

Ever since prop 8 passed it's like everyone forgot they used to treat us as equal humans; whether they agreed or supported us as gay people. Now it's like they were given a "charge" to be as mean and uncaring as possible to gay people. Law or no law people don't need to resort to bad manners. They need to go back to their old caring selves and think for themselves. I have been with my partner for 28 years & fortunately our families are on our side; so as long as they are alive we are protected to some degree. It's horrible to live in fear in our country that was built on getting away from the fear of control of the British. I guess that was just a farce and all our founding fathers wanted was to be the ones dishing out the fear. Fearful in LA

Sorry, don't mean to step on toes, I am Canadian. I feel so much sorrow for those not protected by the rights I recieve. Please do not mislead my comment with legal inaccuracies from your home. My message was clear and supportive.

Monique Damphousse | April 29, 2010 12:12 AM

I am not gay, but I am heartbroken to learn about what happened to these people. I don't care what the circumstances were of their private lives, and the fact that people are bringing it into this issue is appalling. The real issue here is that so much was done to them against their will. Had this happened to a heterosexual couple, would it have been kept so quiet? This should have been all over every news program in North America! We, as humans, have so much more to learn about being humane.

I agree, Why is a religious ceremony a legal doctrine any more. When a young christian is confirmed in the church, should the government then consider that person an adult?
Yes these men had "made diligent efforts to protect their legal rights, and had their legal paperwork in place" but this does nothing to protect them from the state like a heterosexual marriage.

Mr Scull was described as having dementia, delerium and depresion.
Was the agreement between he and his partner arrived at before or even douring the onset of his condition?
Was the reason for the allegation of abuse simply due to statements Mr Scull made in the mental condition described in the complaint?
I personaly have had loving family members suddenly turn in to complete strangers simply due to dementia.

Brian Hemsworth | May 7, 2010 12:46 PM

This is another example of the fallacy that the US, whilst believing itself to be the most advanced nation on earth is actually the most bigoted, belligerent and clinically stupid Nation on the Planet, and the lesser States, (all except NY and Mss) are ruled by complete morons. The third world can teach the US so much... pathetic!

i can't believe what i have read. my heart breaks for these poor men.

all the arguements about marriage and whether same sex couples should be allowed to marry bury the point that these two men are human beings and were treated with zero respect, dignity or rights.
Sonoma county needs to be held accountable for their crimes. same goes to everyone involved in this hideous display.
no amount of money in the world can fix this, but they nee to be held accountable, and justice SWIFT justice needs to be served.

whether it be legal marriage or legal partnership or whatever document you want to call it, there needs to be something in place to protect couples NOW. this is so wrong and so inhumane on so many levels. truly shameful.

Claude Miller | May 23, 2010 7:39 PM

Welcome to Obamaworld.

This is what you get with crooked Liberal lawyers and judges, and a cancerous top level of government.

The state or county should be made to pay these men at least a million dollars a piece, every year that they live.
Take it out of the Teacher's Union Pension Fund; they are complicit in the condition we find ourselves in.

This is what's happening today; Marxism ideology and run away government intrusion into citizen's lives.

Come the Revolution, there will be many hangings in the Town Square.

Anthony Cataldo | June 4, 2010 9:51 PM

The people who did this to them should be ashamed they are Nazi's

Stacy Negron | June 8, 2010 11:24 AM

Let's take this out of the GAy arena. One man was 88 and the other 77 years old. At that age many persons are left widowed or alone and it is common to have a non family member be your medical executor.What if they were straight and there respective spouses had died and as friends they moved in together. They did all the proper paper work for the end of there life. You can by law make anyone the executor of your estate as well as your medical executor. The law was broken, the surviving mans posessions were taken and he was unjustly inprisoned in a nursing home.

Timo Ojanen | January 8, 2011 2:46 AM

The county acted in a disgusting manner. Luckily for the upcoming lawsuit, it was also illegal, so hope those responsible face the due consequences of their actions, whether due to ignorance or malice. Totally unacceptable.