Missouri Governor Sets New Discrimination Policy

July 26, 2010

by Chris Blank | Kansas City Star

It’s relatively basic: Laws are created after the Legislature approves a bill and the governor signs it. But that is not the only way for chief executives to enact policy.

Gov. Jay Nixon used such an alternative method earlier this month, approving an executive order that expands Missouri’s nondiscrimination policies to cover people who are gay and those who served in the military.

read more


Lutherans Offer Warm Welcome to Gay Pastors

July 26, 2010

by Laurie Goodstein | New York Times

With a laying on of hands, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America on Sunday welcomed into its fold seven openly gay pastors who had until recently been barred from the church’s ministry.

read more


Judge Blocks Arizona Law on Domestic Partner Benefits

July 26, 2010

from the Associated Press

A federal judge is blocking Arizona from implementing a state law that eliminates domestic partner benefits for gay and lesbian state employees.

read more


Victory! Sonoma County Settles with Clay Greene for Over $600,000

July 23, 2010

Just days before trial was set to begin in our lawsuit on behalf of Clay Greene, Sonoma County officials have agreed to settle out of court with the elderly man, who County officials separated from his partner, Harold Scull, after Harold was injured in a fall outside of their home.

Their tragic story captured hearts and headlines across the country, and generated an outpouring of support unlike anything we have seen before, along with intense, justifiable outrage that an elderly gay couple could experience such cruel mistreatment and abuse.

Sonoma County has agreed to pay Clay and Harold’s estate. This payment is partial vindication for the nightmare Clay and Harold endured at the hands of county workers, whom disregarded their 20-year relationship and failed to respect legal documents in which Clay and Harold named each other as agents for medical and financial decisions.

Ignoring Greene entirely, the County petitioned the Court for conservatorship of Scull’s estate, separated the couple by putting them in separate nursing care facilities, and terminated Harold and Clay’s lease on the home they shared. Without authority, the County took everything the couple owned and auctioned it off. And horrifyingly, without following the strict legal requirements for placing someone in a nursing facility against their will, the County then forced Clay into a facility where he did not want or need to be, where he was physically restrained from leaving, and where he was completely isolated. In Clay’s own words from a story in The New York Times: “I was trash” to them, he said. “I’m going to end up in the dumpster.”

In addition to paying out a substantial sum, as a result of Clay and Harold’s lawsuit, the County has changed or modified a number of important policies in its Office of Public Guardian, including requiring employees to follow protocols before seizing private property, preventing employees from relocating elders or others against their will, and prohibiting employees from backdating information in their guardianship databases.

No amount of money can ever ease the trauma, pain, humiliation, and fear Clay suffered in the months after Harold’s fall. And nothing can ever make it possible for Clay to be at Harold’s side when he died three months after they were separated.

We are awed by Clay’s courage in standing up for himself and other vulnerable LGBT elders. We are grateful to Clay’s court-appointed attorney, Anne N. Dennis, and elder abuse specialists Stephen O’Neill and Maggie Flynn of Tarkington, O’Neill, Barack & Chong, because their hard work and dedication led to this terrific result. We trust that this experience will go a very long way in ensuring that LGBT elders in Sonoma County are not similarly mistreated in the future. But this victory is tempered by the harsh, sad facts of this case. Nothing can salve the heartache of being cruelly deprived of the opportunity to be with a dying partner. Nothing can make up for the unbearable reality that Harold died alone, without Clay by his side, after spending the final months of his life making a photo album for Clay of their life together.

This story truly haunts me, and underscores the need for everyone to be more educated about elder abuse within the LGBT community, and what each one of us can do to prevent a sequel to this tragedy. At NCLR, we are working harder than ever, expanding outreach for our elder law public education program. And your support can help us continue working to enforce laws to protect the aging LGBT population.

This case highlights the urgency needed for true and full LGBT equality across the country, rather than a patchwork of hit and miss state rights or protections. This settlement cannot undo what Clay and Harold endured, but it ensures that what happened to them will never happen in Sonoma County again. Someday, I hope I will be able to say the same for the rest of the country.

Sincerely,


Sonoma County Defendants to Pay Clay Greene over $650,000 to Settle Case in Which County Forcefully Separated Greene from his Partner of 20 Years

July 23, 2010

Late yesterday evening, Clay Greene and the estate of Harold Scull, Greene’s deceased partner of 20 years, reached a settlement resolving their lawsuit against the County of Sonoma (“County”) and other defendants.

Greene and Scull’s estate will receive more than $600,000 to compensate for the damages the couple suffered due to the County’s discriminatory and unlawful conduct.

“What Clay and Harold lost can never be replaced, but this settlement brings a measure of justice to their story,” said Amy Todd-Gher, Senior Staff Attorney for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which represented Greene with The Law Office of Anne N. Dennis and Stephen O’Neill and Margaret Flynn of Tarkington, O’Neill, Barrack & Chong. “This victory sends an unmistakable message that all elders must be treated with respect and dignity, regardless of their sexual orientation, and that those who mistreat elders must be held accountable. Even as we celebrate this victory, however, we are deeply troubled that the County of Sonoma continues to refuse to take responsibility for their egregious misconduct and violations of the law in this case.  We urge every citizen of Sonoma County to demand more oversight of the Public Guardian’s office.  They need to be watched.”

Greene and Scull lived together for 20 years and had executed both mutual powers of attorney for medical and financial decisions and wills naming each other as beneficiaries. In April 2008, County employees separated the couple after Scull fell outside their shared home. In the next three months, County officials ignored the couple’s legal documentation, unlawfully auctioned their possessions, terminated their lease, and forced Greene into an assisted living facility against his will. The County did not consult Greene in Scull’s medical care and prevented the two from seeing one another. In August, 2008, before the partners could be reunited, Scull passed away after completing a photo album of the couple’s life for Greene.

In August, 2009, Greene and the representative of Scull’s estate, the couple’s longtime friend Janette Biggerstaff, filed a lawsuit alleging elder abuse, elder financial abuse, breach of fiduciary duty, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment, and other claims.

In addition to agreeing to pay a substantial sum, as a result of the lawsuit, the County has changed or modified a number of important policies in its Public Guardian’s Office, including requiring County employees to follow protocols before seizing private property, preventing County employees from relocating elders or others against their will, and prohibiting County employees from backdating information in their guardianship database.

“This settlement will allow Mr. Greene to finally have the quiet retirement he deserves,” said Anne N. Dennis, one of Greene’s attorneys. “Although nothing can undo the harm to these gentlemen, we believe the changes made because of the lawsuit will improve services to elders and other individuals who need the assistance of the Sonoma County Public Guardian’s Office.”

Plaintiff Jannette Biggerstaff, the executor of Scull’s estate and a longtime friend of the couple, added: “There is no possible justification for what happened to my friends Harold and Clay, and I still feel outraged and heartbroken that they suffered such a terrible tragedy, which was made worse by the county spreading such terrible lies about Clay,” she said. “But I am pleased that their rights have been vindicated, and I’m hopeful that their story will help to prevent this from happening to other vulnerable people.”


Margaret Marshall, Author of Massachusetts Gay Marriage Decision, To Retire

July 23, 2010

Margaret Marshall, author of Mass. gay marriage…, posted with vodpod

by John R. Ellement, Jonathan Saltzman, and Martin Finucane | Boston Globe

Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall, who led the state’s highest court as it reshaped the Western legal world with its historic ruling approving same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, announced this morning that she would retire.

read more


Argentina’s Gay Marriage Law Signed by President

July 23, 2010

by Deborah Rey | Associated Press

President Cristina Fernandez signed a new law Wednesday making Argentina the first country in Latin America to legalize marriage for same-sex couples.

read more


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 52 other followers