Monday, May 10, 2010

Elderly gay couple faced horrors in Calif.

By Caleb T. Maupin
Published May 7, 2010 7:34 PM

Hate crimes against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities are far from rare in the United States. In many cases, it is not just hate-filled bigots who commit these crimes, but the government itself.

A recent case in Sonoma County, Calif., shows how a local government disregarded its own laws in order to terrorize, repress and rob two elderly gay men.

Clay Greene and Harold Scull established legal rights for themselves as a couple despite the bans on LGBT marriage and other efforts to prevent legal recognition of same-sex unions. Scull and Greene had lived together for 25 years and granted each other power of attorney in emergency situations.

In April 2008 Scull tragically fell and was taken to the hospital. Despite having legal power of attorney, Greene was denied even the right to visit his partner.

When Greene attempted to gain his legally established rights, he was forced into a nursing home. Greene’s claims of unjust hospitalization were labeled “dementia,” and negative stereotypes about the elderly were used to remove his credibility and keep him locked away.

While Greene was confined in the nursing home, the county confiscated and sold all the personal items in the home that he and his partner had amassed together. Their collection of valuable artwork, furniture and even their two cats were auctioned off, with the proceeds going to Sonoma County. The lease on their jointly rented home was declared void by the county, and their home of 25 years was rented to someone else.

After being released from the hospital, Scull was taken to a separate nursing home and not allowed to see his partner. Scull died shortly afterward.

Finally, with the help of a lawyer, Greene was released from the nursing home after being held against his will for two months. The Gay People’s Chronicle of Cleveland noted how Greene recalled being mocked by county workers for the grief he felt over his dead partner. (April 23)

Greene is currently suing Sonoma County for the mistreatment, discrimination, theft and illegal confinement carried out against him. But a victory in court will not return the last moments of Scull’s life, when Greene was legally entitled to stay at his partner’s side and provide him with comfort and love. Nor will it return the possessions the partners held together.

The case of Clay Greene exposes the oppression of the LGBT community and the elderly that is part of the very fabric of capitalism in the United States. In addition to fighting for full legal, economic and political rights for the LGBT community, we need to make our goal smashing the economic root of LGBT oppression and all repression — the profit-hungry capitalist system itself, which promotes discrimination and all forms of abuse in order to serve a few profiteering elites.

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