THE BLOG
06/19/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Elderly gay couple robbed of companionship, possessions, and dignity

In spite of their platitudes about how gay marriage could unfairly define the word "marriage" and thereby ruin the concept of the term for so many people, neither Maggie Gallagher, the denizens at the National Organization for Marriage or Mike Huckabee can point to a case where gay marriage led to the dehumanization and destruction of a family.

And no I am not talking about hypothetical distortions about how gay marriage in the Netherlands led to more out-of-birth wedlocks.

On the other hand, the lgbt community can point to a myriad of cases where a lack of marriage protection for the couple involved spelled disaster,  such as this sad case in California courtesy of the National Center for Lesbian Rights:

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.

People can ruminate about God and the religious views of homosexuality all they want. But I dare any decent Christian to justify what happened to Harold and Clay.

Marriage equality is not a Machivellian concept introduced to "force acceptance." It's a way to ensure that lgbt couples are afforded the rights and dignity they deserve as American citizens.

You probably won' t see Harold and Clay on any news shows. They most likely won't be appearing in columns or right-wing town hall meetings and conferences with a throng of people praying over them, but you know what?

Who cares.

We are still talking two humans whose lives have value and whose happiness have been attacked through the plots of people who obviously don't care to see them as human beings.

What happened to Harold and Clay was a travesty and has no business happening again. We all deserve respect and decency for ourselves and our loved ones.

One would hope that  respectable Christians would agree.