The National Center for Lesbian Rights is suing Sonoma County, Calif., on behalf of an elderly gay man who alleges the county separated him and his partner of 20 years after his partner injured himself. His partner later died.

Elderly Calif. gay man sues over separation from partner

Clay Greene, 78, represented by NCLR, says in his civil lawsuit that after his partner, Harold Scull, 88, injured himself after falling down some stairs two years ago, Sonoma County officials admitted him into a hospital and denied Greene visitation privileges even though the couple had legal documents naming each as the other’s spouse, according the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat.

“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,” states NCLR in a press release.

The county then auctioned off the items in Greene’s and Scull’s home and had Greene involuntarily admitted into a separate nursing home from Scull, the suit alleges.

Scull died three months after being admitted into the hospital.

The attorney representing Sonoma County officials in the suit, set to go to trial July 16 in the Superior Court for the County of Sonoma, told the New York Times on April 27 that county officials acted the way they did because they believed Greene had abused Scull.

In an email response to the New York Times asking about Spaulding’s comments, Shannon Minter, legal director for NCLR, said the domestic violence charge resulted from “unsubstantiated suspicions and allegations that the county never followed up on, because there was no evidence of abuse.”