Update: This is why we still need marriage rights
by Caleb Reading
Mark Bonney, an attorney and the President of Tulsa Oklahomans for Human Rights, shook his head as he loaded a bag of feed on a utility trailer. “If Sam and Earl were married he would have been able to inherit half the estate when Earl’s will was declared invalid.” Without the recognition of partner rights for same-sex couples in the State of Oklahoma Sam lost his court case in District Court and in the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Civil Appeals. He has no legal claim to the estate. “Since the Supreme Court won’t hear Sam’s case, he has to abide by the Appeals Court decision.”
As a result the family of Betty Lou Maschow from Henryetta, Oklahoma has begun taking possession of the property. They initiated eviction proceedings last month. Betty Lou is a cousin of Earl Meadows and the nearest surviving relative. They could not be reached for comment.
Sam isn’t surprised that Betty Lou turned on him. “When Earl was alive Betty Lou would come around sometimes, only when she needed something. As far as the rest of the family was concerned, they regarded Earl as lost. They pretty well disowned him.”
From Sam’s point of view the family started acting like vultures when Earl got sick. They started taking an interest in the property and making noises about taking it over when Earl died. “I wasn’t completely left out,” Sam said. “I was listed on Earl’s insurance as a beneficiary, so I got some money.”
Anticipating a fight over the will, Sam bought some property near Cromwell, Oklahoma in 2001. He planned on relocating there if he lost the lawsuit. While Sam hoped for justice in the courts he had to stay on the property in Bristow because if it appeared that he was getting ready to abandon the property he would lose his legal claim. One of his sons lived on the property near Cromwell for about a year, in a little one-bedroom house no bigger than many apartments. After awhile his son got a job and had to move closer to Tulsa, so the property was vacant for a while. Last fall when Sam and his new partner, Marvin, checked the property, they found the house completely gutted.
“Someone stripped it out,” Sam explained. “They took everything.” He speculated that someone nearby was building a home and that the builders ransacked his little house, taking all the fixtures, the electric hookups, the plumbing, the kitchen cabinets, some of the walls, and even some of the floor. The house is now a mere shell. The thieves also took a heating vent built into the fireplace. Basically, the house needs to be rebuilt. “I don’t know how we’re going to swing this move by January 15th,” Sam said.