This is why we need marriage rights
[I’m summarizing (in my own words) a long article from indystar.]
For over 20 years, Sam Beaumont and Earl Meadows lived together on an Oklahoma ranch, raising Beaumonts three sons. Earl worked for Black & Decker as a comptroller while Sam tended to the farm and its 50-odd head of cattle. He even built a barn on the farm that was in Earl’s name. In 1999, Earl had a stroke. Sam took care of him at home before he died one year later. Then Earl’s cousins suddenly and finally took an interest in Earl. The cousins went to court and were able to throw Sam out and take the ranch, the animals, and anything else that was in Earl’s name. Even the things Sam had paid for (an estimated $200,000 worth of things). Even the barn Sam built.
The three boys Earl raised as his own and who considered Earl to be a second dad aren’t legally considered heirs.
I suppose someone will argue Sam had it coming for not being able to shell out thousands of dollars to finagle some kind of legal set-up to prevent that from happening. Surely a farmer and a comptroller should have to be legal wizards to have any sort of security in their lives. Nevermind that a heterosexual couple in Oklahoma living in a common law (though not legal) marriage wouldn’t be treated like that at all.
Oh, and the cousins are now suing Sam for “back rent” for the years he lived on the farm. Aren’t they lovely human beings?