Elderly Gay Couple Forcibly Separated, Abused, Robbed By County Officials in California


It looks like none of the local papers have done anything on this story. Strange.
Holy shit.
I agree, that's why I emailed and called the local paper to ask why. Here:


The Press Democrat address
427 Mendocino Ave., P. O. Box 569, Santa Rosa, CA 95402
Newsroom: (800) 675-5056
Sports (800) 660-5056
Newsroom number, 707-526-8585, between 8:30 a.m. and midnight (Pacific Time)

General newsroom fax, (including for calendar items), 707-521-5330

Newsroom mailing address: P.O. Box 910, Santa Rosa, CA 95402
I am caught between horror, disbelief, and absolute outrage over this. California? FUCK. YOU. I hope this lawsuit bleeds you dry. I wish the verdict would also sentence every official involved getting their livlihood sold away and their loved ones forcibly ripped from them. They deserve the isolation and torment they cause these men. I am so furious about this I just have no words to describe how evil this is.
Well, Sonoma Co. discussed the case in a closed meeting last November: http://www.sonoma-county.org/board/meeti…

Here's the full case title/number for those who can get into databases to try to find the whole complaint, which doesn't yet seem to be online

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))

There's no news coverage popping up on the Google, either. Perhaps that should change.
Aren't kidnapping and grand larceny federal crimes? That's exactly what these crimes are!
This horrifies me and disgusts me. I was brought to tears. I found a Facebook page called Justice for Clay Greene and Harold of Sonoma County, CA. Only three members thus far but hopefully that will change fast.
This is truly fucking awful.

I'll bet this isn't the first elderly person or couple (gay or straight) who have been completely ripped off and robbed of their rights by Sonoma county.
Stupid fuckers. I hope they're driven out of business.
Didn't something similar (not exactly the same) to this happen to a 20+ relationship same-sex couple in Oklahoma, where the judge awarded the estranged family members of a dead gay man his half of estate owned by both men? I wished I could remember the parties involved with that case.

This kind of shit makes my blood boil. If this is true, I hope this man is able to sue their asses back into the stone age.
Unbelievably horrible. We all hope their lawsuit succeeds, but the cold truth is that there is no possible outcome to the case that will make up for the injustice and inhumanity that these men suffered.
Hmm. This press release from Clay's lawyers - hungry for a fat contingency fee - is very light on facts, and very heavy on spin.

Why was Clay in a nursing home if he was in "good health?" Is he physically in good shape, but mentally gone? Why, if they were so careful about having all the right paperwork in place, did they not have a lawyer they could call the moment things went south? Were they pretty much broke even before the State intervened? Is that why the State intervened?

The whole thing smells very fishy. If local papers aren't covering it, it may well be that the State was doing the right thing (or at least trying to), and a couple of ambitious lawyers are trying to stir up a controversy where none should exist.

Of course, it's also possible that the State kidnapped Clay and robbed him blind, in which case this is way more important than kids going to prom.
Just heart breaking. It would seem mankind's ability to hate knows no bounds. Really disgusting, I'm just sickened by this story.
Notice that Clay is now represented by court-appointed counsel. That means he's either mentally incompetent, indigent, or both. The fact that he clearly didn't have his own attorney before suggests that one or both of these was true even when his husband was alive.
I'm glad to see Kendall, Minter, and Co. are atop this.
@12: They're hardly "ambitious" lawyers — which suggests a naïveté, inexperience, or whatever. They're experienced, the real deal, and have a unassailable track record for representing and observing such human and civil rights cases.

Case: Shannon Minter at NCLR made the argument in court challenging the Prop. 8 mess back in 2009. But he goes way back further than that.

Also, Kate Kendall wields the most powerful, confident, awesomesalad handshake of anyone I've ever met.
@16: I don't think of ambition as a pejorative. To be ambitious is to have confidence in one's own potential and the drive to see it through. People can be ambitious at every stage of life. For example, U.S. Senators are not usually naive and inexperienced, but many of them have ambitions for the Presidency.

I'm glad to know Clay is now in good hands, whatever the facts of the case.
@17: actually, to expand on something you criticized in @12, it is actually the norm, not the exception, for local papers to not be paying attention to a legal petition until — at a minimum — the district court dismisses or rules against it and an appeal is brought to the court of appeals. And even then, it usually isn't until an appeals opinion is issued that media begin to sit up and take notice to potentially precedent-testing case law coming down the pipe. Having been there and done that, it's not that surprising, either: unless it is sensational (i.e., "fire burns down house") or final (i.e., "court declares the act of speaking legal"), then it won't get the readership they want to assure advertisers their promised keep.
I would certainly like to hear more details on this case.
@19: You might have to wait on that until discovery is complete.
SONOMA county? I would expect to hear about this in Orange, or Kern, or Riverside, or something. Disgusting.
@14 - "The fact that he clearly didn't have his own attorney before suggests that one or both of these was true even when his husband was alive. "

Not having a lawyer of your own before anything goes wrong is a sign of mental incompetence or indigence?


Here is another link. Apparently Jay Leffew of "Gay Family Values" tried to get the story in the local newspaper and never heard back from them.

Another link to the paper that wouldn't print the story.


This story needs full exposure.

Rest in Peace Harold Scull.

Hang in there Clay Greene, we're trying to spread the word.
@7: Please provide a link for this group - I couldn't find it...
@21: Exactly. Sonoma County is one of the best places in America to be gay. That's what makes me suspicious of this press release, and makes me wonder what else, apart from homophobia, might have motivated county officials to do what they did. There may be another side to this story.
close tag and the tag.
Oh, and this tag , too.

Linda with a y, was it really necessary to overkill the bold/underscore/italics tags all at once?
sorry, my bad
Well I thought it was or I wouldn't have done it!
No worries.
Here's another case from their docket...talk about $540 buying you a whole lot of trouble...


Kim Smith and Maggie Quale are two women who were in a committed romantic relationship for over two years. They held a commitment ceremony before family and friends in January 2008. They decided to have children together and, after Maggie was unable to get pregnant using sperm from a sperm bank, they ended up using a friend’s boyfriend as a sperm donor. Kim and Maggie paid the donor $540 for his sperm from their joint bank account. They had twins, and raised them together for approximately six months before breaking up. The donor did not meet the twins until they were approximately one month old, and only saw them at most five times during the first six months of the babies’ lives. After the break-up, Maggie severely limited contact between Kim and the twins. Kim then filed a parentage action in Santa Cruz County family court, asserting her parental rights and requesting joint custody. As a defense to Kim’s parentage action, Maggie asked the sperm donor to return from a distant state, file a paternity action, and move in with her and the twins.


Oh, and it seems like the STYLE attribute isn't supported (tried

and ).

Is there a guide to acceptable HTML for SLOG comments?

@22: "Not having a lawyer of your own before anything goes wrong is a sign of mental incompetence or indigence?"

Things seem to have gone very wrong for a very long time before Clay got his current lawyers. Your guess is as good as mine as to why that was.
I can't believe that happened in Sonoma County! If all the facts are what they seem to be, he should sue the fuck out 'em. Anyone know which nursing home/hospital? I'd love to give them a piece of my mind.
Dan, that story is truly fucked up, like absolutely fucked up. I can't believe people could be so heartless even if they were homophobic they were just soulless. However, I know you are very well spoken and knowledgeable but I think you cloud your mind so much with just current events involving gay/lesbian communities that you maybe miss some things. Do you really think this merits a call from the president? I just think there are more fucked up things that you are missing and deciding that this cause is the single most important, which i think is untrue.
I'm typing this through tears. This is one of the worst, saddest stories I've ever heard. I hope every asshole that did this to them has their partner ripped away from them too. Jesus.
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.
Is there anywhere we can donate some money, or send a card or email of support to Clay and his legal team?

This whole story is absolutely infuriating and depressing.
This is beyond horrible.
Read this story yesterday on Bilerico. So tragic. Last I heard trial date is set for 16 July, 2010 in Superior Court for Sonoma County.

Give the Santa Rosa Press Democrat a little attention, if you feel so moved at Letters@pressdeomcrat.com.


Here's another article where the couple thought they had done everything they needed to do and still the survivor had to fight for what was lawfully his.

These examples, along with Janice and Lisa's story, are some of the biggest reasons Marriage equality should be signed into law. I don't think it can get any clearer.

As someone who spent a couple years working in nursing homes (until I realised it was not right for my personality), I too often found myself caught in situations where doctors would claim that a senior wasn't competent for medical care because of transient forgetfulness, deep grief, etc. I remember one woman who was severely confused while she had an infection, but whose confusion completely went away once the infection was treated. It took lots of complaints from nursing staff over three months and the threat of calling in lawyers before the doctor (who came in once every two weeks to see 80 patients) agreed to list her as competent again.

Someone who's been declared incompetent may or may not even be able to hire a lawyer to fight for them, depending on the jurisdiction.
I kind of feel like I'm in shock after reading that.
Next to nothing shocks me anymore. Not even this.
I'm with the skeptics -- it seems there are some missing facts here. The whole lawyer thing -- if they already had all kinds of legal documents drawn up, why didn't they call that lawyer? And could the two guys have been put into different nursing homes because they had drastically different needs? Harold could have been put in a hospice while wherever "they put" Clay could've been a rehab hospital (of the non-drug sort) -- he did get out, when was the last time you heard of an old guy getting out of a nursing home? And I have a hard time believing the newspaper wouldn't've written this up -- I suspect Clay never called a reporter. But I could be wrong.
@42: Yes, I wouldn't be at all surprised to find that doctors are to blame for some of this.

I can also imagine scenarios in which the county was actually doing the Right Thing, and would have done the same even with a legally married heterosexual couple.
This is why I don't feel bad anymore when people die. I figure most of them should.
I think I'd like to see the actual legal paperwork before I decide one way or the other how I feel about this. I don't think the Slog post gives me enough information to make a completely informed decision. This sounds like an unbelievable situation - and that is kind of a red flag.
@48: It's not a matter for you or us to decide, you see.

Refer to the link at the National Center for Lesbian Rights (per the original posting) as your starting point. Then, if it really interests you, I'm quite sure you can contact the Sonoma County courthouse for a registered copy of the legal complaint, which should be public record. It will probably run you a small fee. I'm sure you can afford it. Then from there, you can watch to see how the whole thing plays out in court, assuming it reaches trial and not settlement or summary judgment for dismissal.

Your itching for "deciding" sans prima facie sounds like you are fed the Murdoch & Fox Wonder Potion on a daily basis. Take twelve times a day til empty, then call for a refill. Deciding is one of the slowest, most deliberate conclusions on which to arrive, but somehow Americans have this notion that it's one of the first and simplest. That's half the U.S.'s problem right there. La, la, and la.
@48: also, mushroom.

(oh, and snaaaaaake.)
Expect to see Maggie on the cover of The Advocate as Person of the Year.....
What a tragedy
that these gals couldn't Marry
the Person They Loved.....
"This press release from Clay's lawyers - is very light on facts, and very heavy on spin."

these guys would be perfect to fill in for Dan when he's stoned!
Yeah. I too would like to hear a little more about the other side's side of things. But whatever their side is, it's pretty fuckin' freaky that something like this could happen out in California. Sonoma County, even.
BABH is sounding an appropriate note of caution, in the absence of much more specific and detailed information.

While it's possible that some homophobic bureaucrats made a wrong decision at one or two key points, these kinds of things happen also to elderly heterosexual couples and singles. If there are not close (physically and emotionally), supportive friends or family to help or intervene, people can be removed from their homes by well-meaning county authorities, plunked in nursing homes, and have their worldly goods disposed of. I can see Clay being despondent after Harold's fall, maybe not bathing, shaving, or eating right for a couple of weeks until a well-meaning neighbor called the police or social-service agency for a welfare check. The whole Sonoma-Mendocino-Marin area of northern California is filled with well-to-do, socially liberal people, and many gay-friendly resorts. Most likely this situation just snowballed bureaucratically (not that that makes it any less traumatic for the victims). I wouldn't be surprised to learn that Clay and Harold were somewhat socially isolated at the time this went down.

Let's just take a deep breath, not overreact, press for more facts, and be ready to support.

This kind of thing will become much more common--Baby Boomers are just starting to retire in large numbers. Not saying it's the case with Clay and Harold at all, but the BB-ers as a group have fewer children, more possessions, are more self-centered and insistent on doing things the way they want, and tend to have unrealistic expectations about the way end-of-life issues will play out.

If you're well off, the best thing you can do when your health begins to fail is move into a caring community, independent or commercial--in the latter you buy into a kind of concentric structure where initially you have your own self-contained apartment but can take community meals, then you move toward assisted and group living, then finally nursing or hospice care (with perhaps episodes of acute care for fixable things along the way). We would all do well to think carefully about community and lifestyle, not just about wills and powers of attorney--they actually don't cover every contingency.
Ours is not to reason why..
Ours is but to Pavlovianly
shriek like hysterical harpy bitches
and join FaceBook pages
and email local officials
and sob inconsolably
at whatever halfassed tiny scraps of misinformation
Dan distorts, mutilates and misrepresents
to prove that we are loyal credulous footsoldiers
of 'the Cause'
in the
HomoLiberal Hate Machine.
Damn Gay Marriage!
Things have moved too far for that-
We need More!!

Monday Morning I will sign an Executive Order
making it Illegal for homosexuals
to get old
or senile
or go broke.
And forget what I said about Resurrection the other day- I was just messin' with ya- you bet your Ass I'll resurrect poor Harold and make him Handsome and Happy and Buff like every Gay has a Right to be.


you'll just have to give me a few minutes to pull myself together before I go find my Executive Pen....
Told myself I was going to start this Monday all positive and cheerful, now I've descended into cynicism again. There are some loathsome people in the world. I hope Clay Greene wins his lawsuit.
oh, and Forget a phone call-
I'm shoving the phone up somebody's ASS just as soon as I figure out who is at fault here...
The institution of marriage, however you feel about it, is powerful in America. This case makes it clear that wills and court orders are no substitute for a marriage license. I hope Clay wins his lawsuit, and I hope the county goes broke as a result. It's the only way they'll learn to stop fucking with people's lives.
OK, if this is actually true, its outrageous, on a whole different out of this world level to the Constance issue. If true, Sonoma County needs to be sued for all its worth, and whats MUCH worse for them, it needs to have media trucks all over town covering this like mad. I'd love to see the faces of the clerks when they see the San Francisco Examiner, SFGate et. al. tallking about this shit. The losses from tourism money would hurt them more than the settlement.

HOWEVER what I'd REALLY like is for an enterprising reporter to get to the bottom of the facts in this case. What we have now is almost exactly hearsay. Outrageous if true, but some independent verification is needes before we get the (metaphorical) knives out.
Troll, are you a person of religious faith? Which one?

Based on the personality characteristics you display here flagrantly and frequently, it seems extremely unlikely there are other people you are close to.

If you interact with others in person the way you do here, which seems extremely likely, life will only get lonelier as time goes on. I've known residents like you in the nursing home where I volunteer. Good luck in your declining years, and I mean that sincerely--you'll need it. There's an awful lot of leeway between what the law requires nursing staff to do even for cranky, verbally abusive, and combative patients, and what you might prefer for your own comfort.
The Press Democrat is owned by the New York Times. I'm not sure a small, local paper is going to care about people from other states outside their circulation area complaining that they are refusing to cover this story.
Wouldn't it make more sense to go after their owner, the New York Times. The Times has national circulation and subscribers as well as a base in New York City with a large LGBT and Ally community. They have a declining subscriber base. Wouldn't a lot of people in New York City consider complaining to the Times and possibly canceling subscriptions over this?
If this story got out a lot of people in New York City would be angry that a publication owned by the New York Times is refusing to cover this case. If people are going to complain go to the top.
@55 and BABH -

Odds are this couple got caught in the machinery of the Medicaid rules. Medicare doesn't cover nursing homes. In order to qualify for Medicaid you have to "spend down" the patient's assets so that they qualify (i.e. Medicaid only covers people in poverty.) For heterosexual married couples there are exemptions to the "spend down" requirement so that the patient's spouse isn't left destitute. Those exemptions don't apply to same-sex couples, thanks to DOMA. Once that Medicaid bureaucracy got set into motion and Harold was declared to have no family, I'm sure Clay never knew what hit him. The poor old guy is 77 years old, has it never occurred to you that a 77 year old man might be vulnerable to a bureaucracy run amok?

While this case is heartbreaking, don't automatically assume that the courts will do the right thing. The Medicaid rules are clear, and unless Clay's lawyers are prepared to make this a fight about the unconstitutionality of DOMA, he may have little legal recourse. Note that Obama's directive of last week will do absolutely nothing to change this situation. His order only stipulated that hospitals receiving Medicare/Medicaid funding had to give patients the right to designate who could visit and make medical decisions on their behalf. It won't do anything to change who is considered a spouse for the purposes of the Medicaid "spend down" rule. I suspect that Obama will claim that DOMA doesn't allow him the legal latitude to order that change.
Wow, this absolutely breaks my heart.
(I doubt anyone will wonder, but @62 is directed to @51, 52, 53, 56, 57, and 59.)

@60, wills, powers of attorney, and medical directives can't always avoid this. Courts can and do order even heterosexual married couples to be moved to nursing homes on occasion if they both become incompetent and friends or family can't ensure their welfare in the home; over time, their dwelling and goods may be sold to pay expenses or satisfy tax liens. So the marriage license isn't necessarily magical.

@64, good point, depending on the timeline. Since Harold only lived 3 months after his fall, the nursing-home time should have fallen within the 90-day window after initial hospitalization for acute care that is covered by Medicare. I assumed they were quite well off, but depending on how long Clay was in the nursing home before he got released, ~$6000 a month can burn through savings pretty quickly.
Hmm...the trend continues.

Lots of support for the lesbian teen attending her prom.

Much less support of two gay guys being seperated from their long term partners.

So many double standards...so little time.

Maybe if people complain pressure will be applied to the Press Democrat from above or the Times might even decide to cover the story on their own.

New York Times contact page:
mailto: Arthur Sulzberger Jr., Chairman & Publisher:
email address : publisher@nytimes.com
mailto:Scott H. Heekin-Canedy, President, General Manager
email address: president@nytimes.com

LGBT reporters at the New York Times:
Richard Berke, Ben Brantley, Frank Bruni, Stuart Elliot, Patrick Healy, Adam Nagourney, Horacio Silva, Stefano Tonchi, Eric Wilson, Holland Cotter

Richard Berke, Assistant Managing Editor contact form
no, rob¡ I'm not-
but thanks bunches for your concern.
I might be in the market soon, though;
can you recommend a Faith?
Wow, the local paper just did an update.
Turns out 'Harold' is the name of Clay's cat.
Boy am I embarrassed....
@64, but don't people get a CHOICE on whether their entire assets are put on sale to make them poor enough to qualify for Medicaid?

It seems to me that the issue here is that this couple had a WEALTH of legal documents to ensure that, in the event one of them was not competent to make decisions, the other would be able to take over. The allegation is that the county ran roughshod over these legal contracts and treated Harold like a senile man with no one to speak for him despite he most certainly did. In addition they sold assets belonging to two people while pretending that the estate was in fact only Harold's (who conveniently can't speak for himself), effectively robbing Clay of his home and belongings.

Again, I don't know whether the allegations are true, but if so I can't really see how this could POSSIBLY be legal, even if Clay had been a roomate and not a partner of 20 years.
This is truly sickening. Good luck to Clay.

@47, 51-53, 56, 57, 70: Troll harder, faggot.
(Faggot in the South Park sense, of course.)
@72, But they are so much easier to burn in the firewood sense of the word.
@62 - I've conclude we are the only friends the resident SLOG troll has.

Nobody could stand to be around someone that pathetic, in person.
And it's Sunday afternoon and a Google search for "pressdemocrat.com" and "Clay Greene" still turns up bupkis.

We're going to have to seriously embarrass these people, folks. Dan, I think you have your column all written.
Send this story to Rachel Maddow here her e-mail lets get her on this Rachel@msnbc.com
Cruel, inhuman, disgusting fucking animals. Completely unbelievable.
Submit this story to Digg, Reddit, and the other social sites. Half the media use the front page of these site to get stories.
In the absence of any facts given by the other side of the story, here, perhaps the right course of action is to write polite but firm letters to the county, the hospital, and so forth, asking them to clarify what happened. I'm thinking of this as kind of like writing Amnesty International letters. ("Please clarify whether [person] has in fact been charged with any crime...", subtext "We're watching you. Bastards.")

Getting a good journalist on it is also a good idea, though.
Here is some additional information as well as a picture. Scroll about half way down the page to: "A Devastating Loss: Clay and Harold and the Rights of LGBT Elders"

I know his attorney. The County is dead meat.
@71 No, you don't always get to choose whether or not your assets are going to be spent down for medicaid, especially if the court has made the county your guardian. This would be even more dramatic if one or another had owned the home that they'd lived in, because that would probably have been liquidated, too. Medicare doesn't cover the cost of longterm care, medicaid does that, and it will go after your home to reimburse its costs even if you do have a will that stipulates who your house is supposed to pass to.
there's your government health care at work, girls...
I've been contacting local media outlets all day ( I live in the area) Thank you for bringing much needed attention to this Dan. I really appreciate it.
@48 You're right. From now on every decision I make will be based on as little information as possible - you have shown me the light!!

Corroboration from external sources is for losers - the SLOG is my new master!
"As Harold’s health declined, it became apparent that they would need assistance, but the men resisted outside help."
@73: Kill it with FIRE, then?
It's entirely possible the local government ( and not just in Sonoma Co.) took advantage of the precarious legal arrangement of the couple to rip them off. It would be interesting to see how often this has occurred with other unmarried couples, gay or straight and especially the elderly.

All very intriguing.
African Americans revolted in the 1960's. Are they waiting for civil unrest to bring national attention to this? Obama needs to step up to the plate and deliver on his campaign promises! Equality Now!
@88, That's typically what's done with a faggot.
As always, thanks for bringing these things to our attention from time to time, Dan. It's on Fark now too for what it's worth. Hopefully Gawker soon. I'm going to try to direct my rage and disgust toward something a little productive.

So, so fucking sad.
@81, linda with a y, your link was very helpful in trying to make sense of this situation--thank you. It seems clear that county employees were culpable, and may have conspired with others to profit from the sale of their personal effects, or with nursing-home administrators to fill empty beds. There is much investigation to be done; I hope it is thorough and unsparing.

It also seems clear from that link that Clay and Harold made some mistakes in judgment, trying to stay too long without help in a house that was less and less suitable for their increasing disabilities, and whose upkeep was getting away from them (as I hinted @55)--none of which justifies IN ANY WAY the wrongs that were done to them.
Here's a link the Digg story you all should, please, digg up:

@8 - My thoughts exactly. This is elder abuse as much as it's a gay rights issue.
I have been searching and researching this particular story all day, and can find no corroborating evidence to support this story. There is no last name for Harold, no hospital name, no judge name, no date of case filing, no date of the alleged injury. To me, this article has stunk like a fear ad from the very beginning. Does anyone have anything other that the same article to base this on?
This is why we need Gay Elder Space now!
I'm rarely moved to tears, but this story made me cry. Dan, when you posted about the Constance McMillen debacle, you included phone numbers and addresses of officials that could be contacted. I looked online, but I'm not sure where and to whom I can send letters/emails/faxes of disapproval. Any suggestions?
@97: Harold's last name was Scull. Clay's last name is Greene.