My husband and I thought we had all the bases covered.  We had wills, living wills, powers of attorney, and we were Domestic Partners.  As of July 1, 2003, in California, we had almost all the rights and responsibilities of legally married spouses.  

On a rainy afternoon on January 27, 2008, my beloved husband died in our home in rural northern California.  All our legal documents, all the laws of the State of California suddenly counted for nothing, nada, zilch to the Deputy Sheriff / Coroner standing in my living room.  According to him, in our county only blood relatives and married spouses counted as next of kin.  He intended to pack up all of my husband’s possessions and ship them immediately to my brother-in-law in New York state.  There was only one thing for me to do.I started lying through my teeth and never stopped until he left my home.  It is hard to believe that my husband never had a credit card or even had a wallet.  Harder still to believe that my husband and I shared all our clothes even though there is a difference of 6″ in our waists.  Odd that we shared all our jewelry and that he never wore a wedding ring even though there was an indentation on his finger.  Many strange coincidences.  But all the Deputy Sheriff could say was definitely my husband’s alone was his driver’s license and his prescription medicine … and that is all he took with him.

The next day, Monday, I called the chief coroner and suggested he check out the law.  He did and subsequently informed all the Deputy Sheriffs of the law of the state.  Hopefully no other gay or lesbian survivor will have to feel what I felt.

I felt my heart stomped on with hob nailed boots.  I was in shock and heavy heart ache with my husband’s dead body cooling in our marriage bed in the next room.  And there in front of me was an officer of the law, bearing deadly force in the form of a firearm and a taser, telling me that I had no say in the choice of a funeral home or anything to do with my beloved husband.  I was nobody … a nothing.  And our marriage of over ten years counted for naught, nothing, zilch, nada.  It hurt.  It still hurts.  A lot.  I tense up and shake to remember it even now.

The bad boy in all this is NOT the Deputy Sheriff in my home that night.  After all, he “believed” my lies.  He actually did treat me with a great deal of kindness and respect.

The bad guy was the chief coroner who did not know about Domestic Partners in the state OR chose not to enforce the law in this county until I called him on it.  He is the bad guy.

So 11 days ago I mailed letters to his boss and to the 5 County Supervisors saying the chief coroner was either incompetent or discriminating.  I wanted an investigation and appropriate discipline.  AND I wanted to know the outcome.  If they could not tell me the outcome, I wanted to know immediately so I could take other action.

After 11 days, I have heard nothing from any Supervisor or from the Sheriff (his supervisor).  This concerns me.  I fear they are not taking me or the situation seriously.  We are in the midst of an election for the Supervisors (election is first week in June)  The Sheriff is not up for election this year.  But it worries me that I have not had the courtesy of any word from anyone.

What should I do?  Some friends are suggesting I go to the local newspapers and TV stations and raise cain.  I hate to do that prematurely … perhaps there is an investigation going on.  But if so, why haven’t they contacted me for an interview?  Seems like the harm done me is an intregral part of any investigation, doesn’t it?  

Some friends are suggesting I pursue a lawsuit for pain and suffering.  I hate to go that route because we are talking about tax dollars.  I want my road fixed more than I want tax dollars used to defend that jerk.

Now I am also questioning my motives.  I am hurt by this jerks incompetence or discrimination.  I am suffering real pain.  However, revenge is not something I seek.  I am just not the type.  But this guy did a real disservice to me, my husband, our marriage, and to the glb community of the county.  Many of my friends are anxious and afraid.  “If they were treated like that after the safeguards they had, what will happen to us?”  Lots of anxiety in the community.  

It is like this guy has a karmic debt to pay; a real sense of justice now needs to be righted.  It is not so much a matter of revenge as a matter of righting a wrong. Still … it is confusing.

I am writing this to solicit thoughts, comments, opinions, ideas.  I would really appreciate any support you good people can offer.

My local lgbt community and I agreed that I should take on this battle myself with their silent and invisable support.  We did not want to start a war between the lgbt community and the Sheriff’s Department.  Just a little war between me and the chief coroner.

But it is a lonely battle sometimes.  Your ideas and suggestions would mean a lot to me.





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