Elderly gay couple faced horrors in Calif.
May 7, 2010
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
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
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
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
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.