Close your eyes and imagine that for twenty-one years you have been in a committed loving relationship. Your partner is the love of your life and the two of you have spent years planning your dreams and working on your life goals together. You have a beautiful home and both of you have been active members of your community. Then, in an instant, a simple accident changes both your lives forever. Your partner is in the hospital and you are being called ‘faggot’ by local police officers who are sworn to serve the community as they force you out of your home. Your partner is thrown into a nursing home without your approval or knowledge and you can’t go see them because there is a warrant for your arrest because with the support of friendly police officers you briefly returned to your home where you had lived for the past twenty years. Most of the community you have loved has suddenly turned its back on you and in your shock and disbelief you do not know where to turn … in shocked desperation you reach out for help.
Does this sound like a horrible nightmare? Are you thinking this could not happen in the Land of The Free … in the Home of The Brave in 2013? It has happened and is happening now in Brookhaven, Mississippi. You don’t often hear about stories like this because important stories are often passed over and replaced with insignificant news stories that make us believe the fashion of celebrities or their latest personal problems are more important than Civil Rights … more important than human decency.
Glenn Easter wants what most of us want out of life. Glenn wants respect and justice. Glenn’s partner, eighty-six year old David, fell at their home on April 12, 2013. Glenn was upstairs in the bathroom when David fell and a paramedic came in the house screaming Glenn’s name. Glenn came running outside in his robe. David had gotten up and continued toward the street where he collapsed while calling Glenn’s name as loudly as he could.
After twenty-one years of being together David and Glenn had a plan in place in case something like this were to happen. Glenn has power of attorney for David and his name is also on the lease of their home. They believed they were completely covered. Or, so they thought. They did not realize that local bigotry and prejudice would over-ride the legal preparations they made together.
David was taken to the hospital and his family was informed. Glenn was worried about his partner as David began to go in and out of a coma. During the moments of going in and out of consciousness, David suffered a stroke. It was at this point that Glenn lost all control of his life and his partner’s life.
David’s nephew moved David to another hospital without Glenn’s consent or knowledge. This nephew had gone behind their backs and gotten a conservatorship; which gives the nephew “control” over decisions for David. The judge who issued this conservatorship was in another county and either didn’t bother to find out if someone else had the legal right to care for David or this judge simply did not care to acknowledge and uphold Glenn’s legal standing.
Just when Glenn didn’t think it could get worse, the nephew, great nephew and a police officer entered his home and informed him he had ten minutes to get whatever he wanted and get out, because now the home belonged to the nephew and he was trespassing. The local authorities had decided that the home David and Glenn had shared for twenty years and which Glenn holds a lease on was no longer his home and he was forced to leave. David is currently in a nursing home. David and Glenn never wanted David to be in a nursing home. They planned for Glenn to care for David if possible. David believed Glenn would make decisions regarding his care. Glenn hasn’t seen David for two months. In fact, he can’t see David because he has been hiding while seeking legal assistance because he is wanted for trespassing in his own home.
Lambda Legal, which is well known for helping people in the GLBT community and people fighting HIV/AIDS, is helping Glenn Easter along with attorney Hays Burchfield. Mr. Burchfield is working with a team of lawyers to bring justice to this small town in Mississippi. Glenn is now having to turn himself in to the police. Glenn’s attorney’s have advised him to turn himself in to show that he is cooperating and they plan to use this arrest in their case to show how Glenn’s rights have been violated.
Is this the kind of world where things like this should be allowed? Shouldn’t we all have the right to love who we love without the fear that the legal system can strip it all all way. Help us help Glenn Easter and David and other people who are victims of injustice by sharing this story. Injustice will prevail if good people do not stand up for what is right and just.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Glenn plans to turn himself in to local authorities the week of July 29th.
After Glenn reported to local authorities and plead Not Guilty to trespassing in his own home he was given a Court date on Sept. 12 at 9:00 am. He tried to see his partner David but David was not in the facility where Glenn last saw him. David had been moved without Glenn’s permission or knowledge and Glenn has not found him yet.
Glenn says, “I drive past my home and long to pull into my carport and set in my same spot outside were I have set many a day reading or working rewiring a chandelier or staining a table to sell and I am not allowed to go in … ? I can’t even work to make the extra money I need to get by. I have no access to my handicap equipment in my bathroom and have fallen twice trying to make due were I am. I just want to set down here and cry. I just want to cry.”
Seth Azzarello is a writer and volunteer at GLBT Advocacy & Youth Services, Inc.
James Robinson is a Civil Rights activist and advocate for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community. He is the founder and executive director of GLBT Advocacy & Youth Services, Inc. in Huntsville, Alabama.