Filed Under Polemics & Politics on April 19, 2010 at 2:02 pm
I’ve never broadcast details of my love life on this blog or on the many podcasts I contribute to because frankly, my personal life is, well, personal. In this case though, I’m going to make an exception. Why? Because of the relevance to the tragedy I want to draw your attention to. I’m in a committed loving relationship with another man. We’ve been together for over 5 years now, and we’re building a life together. We just want what every couple want, some basic recognition of the fact that we are a family. This is what the fight for marriage equality is all about. It’s about the simple things like hospital visitation rights, inheritance rights, and so on. It’s inevitable that one day one of us will get sick, and when that day comes, we’ll want the right to visit each other, and to make medical decisions for each other should one of us not be capable of making those decisions for ourselves anymore. Should one of us die before the other we want our worldly possessions to go to the remaining partner without question or taxation, just like it happens for regular couples. These are very simple things, but very important things.
So, this brings us to the tragic tale of an elderly gay couple in the supposedly liberal and progressive state of California in the US. Harold and Clay had lived together as a couple for 20 years, and had done the best they could to protect themselves legally since they were denied marriage rights. They wrote each other into their wills, and gave each other the power of attorney. In theory, should anything bad happen to one, the other would be legally able to make decisions on their behalf. And should one die, the other would get to keep the worldly possessions they’d built up together.
That was the theory, for Clay and Harold reality turned out very different. One day Harold fell, he was old and frail and needed to be hospitalized. Clay was denied visitation rights, and worse still, Sanoma County forcibly moved him into a nursing home against his will, and moved Harold into a different home. They were separated, and Clay got no say in Harold’s treatment. He wasn’t even allowed to visit his partner, and 3 months later Harold died alone. Already, this is inhumane and cruel, but the monsters in Sonoma County were not done abusing these men yet. They ceased and sold all the men’s possessions, ended their lease, and gave their home back to the landlord. Clay had lost his partner, lost all their possession except for one photo album, lost his home, and had his freedom taken away. He eventually managed to free himself from the home with the help of a state-appointed attorney, and is now suing the State and the auction house. Nothing he can win in his case can give him back the last 3 months he should have had together with the love of his life, or the memories enshrined in their worldly possessions. The Damage done to these two innocent men by Sonoma County can never be repaired. But, for the sake of every unmarried couple in Sonoma and the rest of the USA, and indeed the world, I hope Clay can win a moral victory against these beasts.
Their story is tear-wrenching for any human being with a heart, but for me it’s also terrifying. This is how my life could end. I could die alone and afraid just because myself and my partner can’t marry. I can’t think of a better argument for why we need to demand marriage equality NOW.
Finally, for those of you reading this who live in CA and who voted to deny marriage equality recently, you did this. You have the abuse of these two human beings on your conscience. You denied these people their basic rights. I hope you’ll remember this harsh reality next time basic human rights come up for a vote. Perhaps next time you’ll see through the religious extremism and bigotry to the real human suffering it causes.