Thursday, April 29, 2010

Defending the Indefensible

The story of Harold Scull and Clay Greene has reached tens of thousands of people, and in its telling has raised many questions. Since we announced our involvement in the case a couple of weeks ago, many readers have emailed the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR). We have been touched by the outpouring of support for Clay, who literally lost everything after his partner of 25 years fell on the front porch of their home. We also have been disappointed by Sonoma County’s attacks on Clay—a deflection of the true issue in this case, which is the County’s appalling and unlawful conduct toward Harold and Clay. Clay Greene is not on trial. The County of Sonoma is, and they have yet to address the actual charges raised in this case.
{...Read More}

Kate Kendell, National Center Lesbian Rights

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Suit Charges Elderly Gay Partners Were Forced Apart

The New York Times, 4/20/10
Clay M. Greene’s story, as recounted in his recent lawsuit against Sonoma County, is a tale of loss, doubled and redoubled. For gay men and lesbians, the series of events outlined in the complaint hits very close to home.
Mr. Greene, a 78-year-old gay man from Sebastopol, has filed a lawsuit against Sonoma County after saying he sustained a spate of indignities at the hands of officials during a bizarre estate battle that took place when his partner, who was 88, fell and became hospitalized in 2008.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Lawsuit ignites firestorm in gay community against Sonoma County |

Lawsuit ignites firestorm in gay community against Sonoma County


Published: Tuesday, April 20, 2010 at 1:30 p.m.

Last Modified: Tuesday, April 20, 2010 at 1:30 p.m.

In a lawsuit that has sparked a firestorm within the gay community, a Guerneville man claims that Sonoma County officials prevented him from being with his dying partner of 25 years, forced him into a nursing home and then sold all of the couple’s possessions.  Read more

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sonoma County separates elderly gay couple and sells all of their worldly possessions

Sonoma County CA separates elderly gay couple and sells all of their worldly possessions

Clay and his partner of 20 years, Harold, lived in California. Clay and Harold made diligent efforts to protect their legal rights, and had their legal paperwork in place--wills, powers of attorney, and medical directives, all naming each other. Harold was 88 years old and in frail medical condition, but still living at home with Clay, 77, who was in good health.
One evening, Harold fell down the front steps of their home and was taken to the hospital. Based on their medical directives alone, Clay should have been consulted in Harold's care from the first moment. Tragically, county and health care workers instead refused to allow Clay to see Harold in the hospital. The county then ultimately went one step further by isolating the couple from each other, placing the men in separate nursing homes.

Ignoring Clay's significant role in Harold's life, the county continued to treat Harold like he had no family and went to court seeking the power to make financial decisions on his behalf. Outrageously, the county represented to the judge that Clay was merely Harold's "roommate." The court denied their efforts, but did grant the county limited access to one of Harold's bank accounts to pay for his care.

What happened next is even more chilling.

Without authority, without determining the value of Clay and Harold's possessions accumulated over the course of their 20 years together or making any effort to determine which items belonged to whom, the county took everything Harold and Clay owned and auctioned off all of their belongings. Adding further insult to grave injury, the county removed Clay from his home and confined him to a nursing home against his will. The county workers then terminated Clay and Harold's lease and surrendered the home they had shared for many years to the landlord.

Three months after he was hospitalized, Harold died in the nursing home. Because of the county's actions, Clay missed the final months he should have had with his partner of 20 years. Compounding this tragedy, Clay has literally nothing left of the home he had shared with Harold or the life he was living up until the day that Harold fell, because he has been unable to recover any of his property. The only memento Clay has is a photo album that Harold painstakingly put together for Clay during the last three months of his life.

With the help of a dedicated and persistent court-appointed attorney, Anne Dennis of Santa Rosa, Clay was finally released from the nursing home. Ms. Dennis, along with Stephen O'Neill and Margaret Flynn of Tarkington, O'Neill, Barrack & Chong, now represent Clay in a lawsuit against the county, the auction company, and the nursing home, with technical assistance from NCLR. A trial date has been set for July 16, 2010 in the Superior Court for the County of Sonoma.

Read more about NCLR's Elder Law Project.

Are you disturbed by the story of how Clay Greene was treated by the County? Please blog about this, pass it on over Facebook or Twitter, just do whatever you can to help raise the visibility of what happened to Clay. Send a letter to the local paper, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat at Send them this link to NCLR's page.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Marin Community Foundation Grants $1.1 Million to Fund Services for Older Adults in Marin County

Novato, CA (April 13, 2010)—To help Marin County's older adults benefit from a range of health and social services and have opportunities to be involved in their community, the Marin Community Foundation (MCF) is making over $1 million in grants to local organizations serving this population.

"The Foundation has a long history of supporting organizations that provide services to older adults in Marin," said MCF President Thomas Peters in announcing the grants. "Since the growth rate of the older population in Marin is the fastest of any county in the state, it's important that as a community we come together to provide coordinated and effective support to these residents."

"These services help ensure the health and independence of Marin's older adults, and as a result, everyone in the community can benefit from their immense talent and skills," he added.

Direct services being funded include health screenings for older adults living in low-income housing facilities, with nursing students at Dominican University of California overseeing their care and improving safety in their homes.

Other service providers will receive grants to provide classes, meals, and case management assistance in order to help older adults access such services as transportation and in-home support as well as public assistance programs.

Additionally, Spectrum LGBT Center of the North Bay will train organizations serving older adults to work more effectively with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender clients.

A second group of grants will encourage older adults in Marin to become involved in volunteer and employment opportunities. For example, a grant to the Center for Volunteer and Nonprofit Leadership of Marin will fund its efforts to recruit and manage volunteers, some of whom will be helping at agencies that provide services to other older adults in Marin.

Grants will also provide scholarships so older adults can attend a range of community activities throughout the county, including classes, health fairs, and other gatherings.

Also, a grant to the YWCA of San Francisco & Marin's FiftyPlus Employment Program will support instruction in computer skills as well the agency’s Job Seeker Institutes, which offer training in résumé writing and interview skills.

"Not only do we want to tap into a tremendous resource in our community," said Peters of these efforts, "but it's well known that older adults who are engaged in their community are healthier and remain independent longer."

"We are fortunate in Marin to have nonprofit agencies with a strong commitment to the county's older adults," said Peters. "By supporting their efforts, we are helping ensure that our county has a compassionate and effective support system in place to meet their needs."

The complete list of grants follows:
  • Center for Volunteer and Nonprofit Leadership of Marin $75,000
  • City of Novato-Novato Independent Elders Program  $70,000
  • Dance Palace Community Center $20,000
  • Dominican University of California $50,000
  • Jewish Family and Children’s Services $75,000
  • Meals of Marin $60,000
  • Northern CA Presbyterian Homes and Services $20,000
  • Novato Human Needs Center $40,000
  • Senior Access $75,000 
  • Spectrum LGBT Center of the North Bay $60,000
  • West Marin Community Services $10,000
  • West Marin Senior Services $200,000
  • Whistlestop $275,000
  • YWCA of San Francisco $75,000
About the Marin Community Foundation:
The Marin Community Foundation is the primary center for philanthropy in Marin County, CA, and is one of the largest community foundations in the U.S. It manages the assets of the Leonard and Beryl H. Buck Trust and 350 funds established by individuals, families, and businesses. The Foundation makes significant improvements in communities around the world in two ways: by spearheading initiatives for long-term, sustainable change in Marin, and by distributing grants from donor-advised funds locally, across the U.S., and around the world. 

Now in its 22nd year, the Marin Community Foundation has invested over $800 million in the work of nonprofit organizations. Its assets are approximately $1 billion, with annual grant distributions of approximately $50 million.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Making the Law Work for You (Sonoma County)

Two Free Workshops on legal strategies for LGBT older adults

Spectrum LGBT Center announces two free workshops in Sonoma County on the legal challenges facing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender older adults.

Monday, April 19, 2010

1:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
First Congregational Church
252 West Spain Street
Sonoma, CA 95476


Monday, April 26, 2010
1:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Russian River Senior Resource Center
15010 Armstrong Woods Rd.
Guerneville, CA 95446

The legal landscape for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community has undergone rapid and substantial changes recently. Although many of those changes have improved the legal position of LGBT people, their families, and their assets, it is still important to take action to insure full security. 

The workshops, Making The Law Work For Us, focus on existing laws affecting LGBT elders, including: the California Caretaker Statute, financial powers of attorney, gifting during life or upon death, estate planning, and enhanced health care protections with appropriate documentation. In addition, The Council on Aging, Sonoma County's premier organization serving seniors, will present  the array of services available to LGBT older adults.

The panel of attorneys, who are experts in the fields of LGBT and elder law, will include:  Deb L. Kinney, the principal attorney of DLKLawGroup PC, an estate planning, trust administration and probate, and beneficiary representation practice with offices in Santa Rosa and San Francisco; Naomi E. Metz,  the lead attorney in the Santa Rosa office of DLKLawGroup PC; and Barbara Swary, the Director of Legal Services for Sonoma County's Council on Aging.

These are free workshops with no sales solicitation. Light refreshments will be served.  Registration is required.

For more information, or to make a reservation, contact: Gary Shepard, Senior Outreach Assistant, Sonoma County at or (707) 583-2330

Spectrum provides community leadership to promote acceptance, understanding, and full inclusion for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Pacific Sun : Upfront: The gay wedding crashers

Pacific Sun : Upfront: The gay wedding crashers: "Upfront: The gay wedding crashers
Presbyterian Church says legal marriages are illegal because they're legal..."