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Creek Running North
January 20, 2006
Here's a pleasant little story. It’s right up there with this one (lesbian former police officer is dying of cancer; her town council refuses to let her leave her pension to her life partner.) Nice gay couple buy a ranch together, live happily for over twenty years, raise kids, horses, and dogs together. But the deed is in only one of their names, so when he dies, despite there being a will stating the express wishes of the deceased, his loving family, with the collusion of a corrupt/bigoted/all of the above judge, steals the surviving partner’s home and land out from under him on a technicality. The best part? Now they’re suing him for back rent for the years he lived there with his lover.
The Ocean County Freeholders, the judge, this guy’s family-I'm in awe of their cruelty, their venality, their blindness. How lacking in the capacity for love do you have to be to so profoundly fail to see it before your eyes? I don't wonder how they sleep at night-heartlessness like that requires them to have murdered their own consciences, or been born without the ability for moral reasoning altogether. What I want to know is why their own intestines don’t crawl out of their bodies and strangle them for the good of the species.
Update: Commenter Angus alerted me to an update to the police officer story-under enormous pressure, the council reversed their decision today, so Laurel Hester will be able to leave her pension to her partner. Good. Details here.
Posted by Stephanie at January 20, 2006 01:03 PM
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And here I'd just got my blood pressure lowered.
Just for that, you have to post something entertaining while I'm in the Mojave week after next.Posted by: Chris Clarke at January 20, 2006 02:11 PM
Oh for god's fucking sake. And he lost the ranch not even to immediate family but to cousins??? Americans really are the greediest assholes in the world. We let nothing get between us and money.
This is really beyond the pale.Posted by: SneakySnu at January 20, 2006 02:17 PM
Can we send the whole pack of them on a fact-finding trip to Sentinel Cave?Posted by: Auguste at January 20, 2006 02:37 PM
Heh. Sorry about your blood pressure, Chris. I thought I'd share the rage. I flush bright red and shake every time I think of either of those stories. Sometime soon I'll post a nice story-with deer in it, and ducks, and squirrels-about walking in the woods. And I might inflict some of my pictures on the blog too, if that's ok (and I can figure out how to do it.)
SneakySnu, Americans just might let their bigotry get between them and money, but in this case they didn't have to make that difficult choice. It was a two-fer. They could both profit and feel superior to the foolish, sinful little people who were begging for justice. What could possibly be better?Posted by: Stephanie at January 20, 2006 02:41 PM
Nah, Auguste, I want to go there someday (with extra batteries for my flashlight:) I wouldn't want to contaminate the place. How about we send them here? Or here? I'm sure a few of those kids would be happy to change places with them.Posted by: Stephanie at January 20, 2006 02:57 PM
I knew I shouldn't read anything today...just clean my place and paint. Yes, and please keep the cousins out of caves of any type. The bats might "catch" something. Damn Stephanie, your next post better be happy joy joy!Posted by: OGeorge at January 20, 2006 03:35 PM
Unbelievable.Posted by: Ancrene Wiseass at January 20, 2006 03:51 PM
fucking nasty. i don't ever say that in print or public, so either i'll get struck by lightening, or -- i'll wake up tomorrow, everything the same. sheesh.Posted by: kathy a at January 20, 2006 10:38 PM
The good news is that the Ocean County freeholders have announced that they're reversing their decision --- the cop's partner is going to get the benefits. Even better news is that two other NJ jurisdictions --- Passaic and Camden County --- passed domestic partner benefits ordinances in response to this story.Posted by: Angus at January 21, 2006 11:49 AM
Angus, that's great news-last I heard (yesterday) they had turned down her videotaped appeal and said that they weren't going to reconsider. Do you have a link? I can't find the new information. It's also great to hear that this case is inspiring other municipalities to do the right thing.Posted by: Stephanie at January 21, 2006 12:08 PM
the updated news is terrific!Posted by: kathy a at January 21, 2006 07:57 PM
Sometime soon I'll post a nice story-with deer in it, and ducks, and squirrels-about walking in the woods.
And kittens, too. Can there be kittens? With pretty ribbons around their necks? Because I need something distracting to wipe the image of that poor man, being evicted from his own home, out of my mind. How horribly, horribly sad and cruel.Posted by: kactus at January 22, 2006 05:17 AM
kactus, no kittens in photo range of me, but just for fun tonight I put a bow on my sweet old lady cat. She was very nice about it. Pictures tomorrow.Posted by: Stephanie at January 22, 2006 10:08 PM
Thanks Stephanie! See, that's what I like about the internet--you ask for kittens and you get kittens, or a close facsimile.Posted by: kactus at January 23, 2006 11:13 AM
You want kittens, kactus? We got kittens. Please leave your shipping address and how many dozen kittens you would like, and we'll Fed-Ex them right away.Posted by: Chris Clarke at January 23, 2006 11:23 AM
Kittens? I'll take them. All of them. And any extra bunnies you have roaming about.
Just... don't tell the_bone. I'll think of something.Posted by: Space Kitty at January 23, 2006 03:20 PM
he could have put the deed in both their names, right? deed documents are not the sole legal province of traditional couples. not that this helps any at this point.
I want to be pissed about this, but honestly, there was a simple way around it.
if the deceased had had a will, there wouldn't have been a story here. when planning your estate (i.e., writing your will) you can leave whatver you want (minus debt) to whomever you wish. properly executed, nothing can alter a person's last will & testament, not even greedy cousins.
so everyone - go out there and get yourself a will!
The deceased had a will, and left everything to his partner. The fuckhead cousin sued to have the will overturned, and the courts agreed.Posted by: Chris Clarke at January 24, 2006 01:07 PM
no way! there had to've been defects in the doc!!
this cautionary tale does underline also the importance of putting both names on a deed to clarify intent.
and find a better estate lawyer!~!
(yeah, my blood's hot on this one!)
What Chris said. The will was apparently missing one of the witness signatures, and that was enough under that particular judge to get it overturned in favor of the fuckhead cousins. It's my (admittedly not informed) understanding that estate judges have a fair bit of leeway in determining the actual desires of the deceased, when there's a question, and that's why I blame the judge almost as much as the cousins in this case.
Cases like this are certainly good motivation for gay families to get documents drawn up, with every i dotted and t crossed, but the point is that they should't have to! If I die today, without a will, my meagre belongings will go to the person I would most want them to go to, without my having to jump through hoops to ensure it. I can also trust him to distribute my most-loved posessions to those to whom they would have the most meaning, because he knows and honors my choices in what I consider family. But I'm extremely lucky in that I'm (mostly) straight, and our nonstandard kind of relationship(polyamory) can be masked by our socially approved one. Gay families can't hide that way, and in many sad cases, can't trust their biological families to honor their wishes.
I love my husband and I love my marriage. But sometimes I think that if I had it to do over again, we wouldn't get married, we'd just live together. It's deeply unfair that we get the privileges we do just for being a heterosexual, normal-seeming couple
Until we as a society start to recognise family as created by love and choice as much as by genetics, cases like this will continue to happen. I don't see that happening anytime soon.Posted by: Stephanie at January 24, 2006 01:44 PM