Monday, April 19, 2010

Unbelievably Cruel, Horribly Unjust and Absolutely Unacceptable

By now most of you have seen or read the story of Clay and Harold, and Sonoma County officials. And I know those of you who have read this story share my deep sadness, outrage and disbelief.

As the CEO of one of the nation’s largest LGBT Community Centers, I hear stories every day of the ways LGBT inequality and discrimination impact the lives of ordinary people.

I hear the stories of the youth, some of them just children really, tossed from their homes and rejected by their families because they are L,G,B or T. Too many of these youth will go on to become chronically homeless -- in fact, 20-40% of our nation’s chronically homeless youth are LGBT.

I see the tears of military partners who cannot even safely communicate with the ones they love so far away in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I see the lingering pain of the victims of hate crimes as they re-tell the stories of beatings and taunts. And I hear the too-common, everyday stories of employers, landlords, medical providers, schools and systems that consistently deny LGBT citizens even basic safety and dignity.

The unceasing daily drumbeat of human pain that results from our government's inaction is deafening. I hear the pain and fear, I see the impact. I see the suffering of the many who have come to believe they are helpless, alone, unwanted and without worth.

But this story…  This story is absolutely terrifying in its cruelty. This story captured for me an incomprehensible level of inhumanity.

To forcibly separate a couple of 20 years, to sell their belongings, to create a situation where one of them dies alone, without comfort, without familiarity, without the one he loved for 20 years? All despite the fact they had powers of attorney and other required legal documentation? Unbelievably cruel, horribly unjust and absolutely unacceptable.

They forced him to die alone, without his partner of twenty years, frightened, disoriented, uncertain.

There simply are not words for this. Or perhaps the words of Kate Kendell, executive director of NCLR, capture it best. “In the 33 years of our organization's history, this case is perhaps among the most tragic NCLR has ever been involved in,” she said. “Clay and Harold had taken all of the necessary precautions, including living wills and powers of attorneys, to protect them in a time of crisis. Not only were their relationship and legal documents ignored, Clay and Harold literally lost everything. These appalling events demonstrate how urgently same-sex couples need full equality rather than a patchwork of rights that can be dismissed and ignored in a culture that still treats LGBT people as second-class citizens.”

While our deep thanks go out to Kate Kendell and NCLR, GetEqual and all of the associated counsel now representing Clay, that is not enough.

Sonoma County, all of our elected officials and the President himself must hear our voices. They all must know the story and hear the voices of reason, of compassion, and of outrage. They must hear us say “We have had enough. Pass the legislation that grants equality NOW. Repeal DOMA, Repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and pass ENDA. Every day you delay allows another story more horrible than the last.”

Join NCLR and GetEqual. Send at least one letter. Do it today for Harold and Clay.

1) Send a letter to President Obama

2) Contact the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors and let them know what you think of these decisions.
Phone: (707) 565-2241
Email form:
Full contact info:

3) Contact Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-445-2841
Fax: 916-558-3160

4) Contact Marin and Sonoma County Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey
Email form:
Washington DC Office: 202-225-5161
Marin Office: (415) 507-9554
Sonoma Office: (415) 507-9601

5) Contact your legislators

6) Ask your friends and family to send a letter.