Update: I've had an email conversation with an elder-law attorney, who feels that this situation could have happened to a heterosexual married couple. So the story is also about financial abuse of elders.
The very short version of the story. Harold Scull was eighty-eight and Clay Greene was seventy-seven; they'd lived together for 20 years, and had taken all the steps available to them to protect each other's medical and personal rights.
But there was one thing missing: the protections provided by marriage, which were unavailable to them as a same-sex couple.
Harold fell and was hospitalized, and that's when the wheels came off.
While Scull was hospitalized, Deputy Public Guardians went to the men’s home, took photographs, and commented on the desirability and quality of the furnishings, artwork, and collectibles that the men had collected over their lifetimes.
Ignoring Greene entirely, the County petitioned the Court for conservatorship of Scull’s estate. Outrageously referring to Greene only as a “roommate” and failing to disclose their true relationship, the County continued to treat Scull as if he had no family. The County sought immediate temporary authority to revoke Scull’s powers of attorney, to act without further notice, and to liquidate an investment account to pay for Scull’s care. Then, despite being granted only limited powers, and with undue haste, the County arranged for the sale of the men’s personal property, cleaned out their home, terminated their lease, confiscated their truck, and eventually disposed of all of the men’s worldly possessions, including family heirlooms, at a fraction of their value and without any proper inventory or determination of whose property was being sold.
This isn't about one county, or one county department, or even one county employee behaving badly. It is about couples denied equal treatment under the law. Here's the complaint: Download Greene_v_Sonoma_County
As usual local media haven't shown any interest in covering an everyday tragedy of regular people. Kendall asks for your help.
Also, please write a letter to the local paper, the Press Democrat (owned by The New York Times) asking them to do some investigative reporting on the Greene v. County of Sonoma case. So far they have ignored the story.
Send a letter to the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. Include the story and a link to this post.and this link: http://www.nclrights.org/site/PageServer?pagename=issue_caseDocket_Greene_v_County_of_Sonoma_et_al
- National Center for Lesbian Rights
- Gay Family Values
- Get Equal
- Box Turtle Bulletin
- The Agitator
- The Advocate
Many commenters are pointing out that financial abuse of elders and probate fraud exist independent of the couple's, or the individuals, sexual orientation. In other words, heterosexual elders are being ripped off also.