Civil Liberties

Sonoma County Responds to Story About Forced Separation of Elderly Gay Couple


Earlier this week, I posted a link to a gay rights advocacy group's account of a lawsuit filed by 78-year-old Clay Greene. According to Greene, when his 20-year partner Harold Scull fell ill, Sonoma County, California refused to allow Greene to visit him. Greene claims the county then forcibly entered Greene into a nursing home, terminated the couple's apartment lease, then auctioned off all of their assets.

I noted in the post that the story was only one half of a lawsuit, and now, in response to numerous complaints as the story spread across the Internet over the weekend, Sonoma County has issued a response, which you can read here. The county says Scull's initial hospitalization, described in the lawsuit as the result of a fall, was actually due to domestic abuse on the part of Greene. The county says Scull filed a report to that effect, and that the abuse was documented by hospital workers. But the letter adds that no criminal charges were filed against Greene.

I'm not sure what to make of that. I'm not familiar with California law on the matter, but while a report of domestic abuse may be enough to keep Greene from visiting Scull in the hospital (and for that to be a sensible decision), without criminal charges, I don't know how it allows the county to forcibly intern Greene in a nursing home and auction off all of his belongings. Then again, if the initial lawsuit neglected to mention the domestic abuse report, it's possible that it also overstated or misstated the county's actions with respect to Greene's property and nursing home stay.

MORE: Here's a write-up on the story by the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.