Sonoma County Separates Elderly Gay Couple

Brittny Drye

gay couple
Flickr photo by Mike Licht,
One of the best things about finding love is being able to share your life with that person, having someone there in those final years.

I'm sure that's how Harold (88) and Clay (77), who had been together for two decades, pictured the remaining years of their lives. But they couldn't. Why? Because they were a gay couple.

When Harold, who was already frail and suffering in health, fell down the stairs in the Sonoma County, California, home that he shared with his partner, Clay, he was taken to the hospital. Even with legal documentation previously written up telling authorities to honor their relationship, Clay was unable to visit Harold in the hospital or make decisions regarding his care. They were treated as "roommates" and nothing more.

As Harold lay in the hospital bed, alone, they placed Clay, involuntarily, into a nursing home. The county then took the possessions that the two had acquired over the last 20 years together and auctioned them off without their consent, as well as terminated their lease and surrendered their home to the landlord. Literally everything -- from the souvenirs of trips they went on to the home they built together -- was taken from them.

Three months after the tragic fall, Harold passed away in the nursing home, not knowing where the love of his life was. And because of the county's actions, Clay missed the final months that he should've had with his partner. Even after he was finally dismissed from the nursing home, Clay wasn't even able to come back to the physical mementos they shared because everything had been sold. The only memento he had was a photo album that Harold had put together for him during those last three months.

There's a lawsuit pending against Sonoma County, the auction company, and the nursing home, set for July 16th of this year. But whether they win or lose, nothing will bring back those last few months of Harold's life.

This story hurts my heart. It makes me want to simultaneously scream and cry and grab hold of my loved ones with all of my might, while marching the streets with gay rights posters.

This definitely opens up the same-sex marriage debate ...

What are your thoughts on this story? Should their partnership have been recognized by the hospital and for their possessions?

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