Sam Beaumont's Bio
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Don't Fence Him Out:
Gay Rancher Loses His Home of 23 years
Privacy was always important to Sam and Earl. While close friends and family knew, the couple was understandably cautious about letting people in Bristow, Oklahoma know that they were in a committed, loving relationship. But they probably would never have been the type to march in a gay pride rally anyway. “We had a real nice, quiet life together,” Sam said. That ended when Earl died in 2000. Now Sam is not only facing life without his other half, but also the very real possibility of losing the home they built and lived in together for 23 years.
At the beginning of their relationship, Earl moved in with Sam and they started building a house just across the creek from Earl’s parents’ home. Because Earl had grown up in the area and was a familiar face in the town of 4,700, they put his name on the mortgage application, although both men were putting money towards their home. In fact, over the quarter century that they lived together, Sam put over $200,000 of his own savings and pension money into the ranch.
It took several years to finish construction on the Crown M (for Meadows) Ranch, but after the first few months it was far enough along for Sam, Earl, and Sam’s three sons to move into the house. Sam and the boys’ mother had remained close friends after their marriage ended. She wholeheartedly approved of Sam and Earl’s relationship so much that not only was she comfortable having them raise the kids, but she also made frequent visits to stay with the family at the ranch when the boys were younger.
While Earl’s parents and Sam’s ex-wife were supportive of the couple, other relatives weren’t as understanding. Most of them simply never spoke to the couple. Sam recalled meeting one of Earl’s cousins at a family gathering several years ago: “I went to shake his hand and he did it, but then he wiped his hand on his pants like he’d just touched something filthy.”
Earl continued to work full-time in a management position at a local factory, and Sam quit his job to run the ranch--cleaning, handling plumbing and electrical work, doing laundry, tending to the animals, gardening, cooking all the meals, and seeing after some rental houses they had on the property. Earl drove the children to school on his way to work every day, and Sam picked them up every afternoon. In later years, Sam started watching after Earl’s elderly mother, often staying at her home because she was afraid of being alone at night. Before she died, Sam visited her in the hospital even on the days when Earl couldn’t get away from work. Viola Meadows considered Sam her son-in-law and insisted that his sons call her “Grandma.” She often spoke of how she hoped Sam’s sons would inherit the Crown M Ranch and, indeed, all of the Meadows family’s land someday.
After Earl had a stroke in 1997, Sam became his primary caregiver. Although they lived less than 30 miles away, none of Earl’s blood relatives helped out in any way. Sam cared for him all day every day, feeding him and making sure he took his medications properly. When Earl went to the hospital for the last time in September of 2000, Sam was there every day, bathing him, shaving him, changing his bedding, and helping him to the bathroom. Again, none of Earl’s relatives showed up. After Earl died, only one of his cousins came to the funeral--and that was only after Sam had arranged to have the service on a Saturday because she refused to take a day off work for it.
That didn’t stop that same cousin and four others--including the man who’d recoiled at shaking hands with Sam so many years before--from banding together to sue for Sam and Earl’s property after Earl passed away. Earl’s intentions were crystal clear--he wrote a will that left everything to Sam and had it notarized, and even bought Sam a plot so that they could eventually be buried together near Earl’s parents. But Earl didn’t realize that a will has to have two witnesses to be valid, so all the properties that were listed as his-- the house, the ranch, and all the assets--were handed over to the relatives who hadn’t bothered to speak to Earl for three decades
In 2005, Sam lost his court battle to hang onto the last remnants of his life with Earl, whose cousins took the house and ranch that he poured his life into for 23 years. Since losing the ranch, Sam has moved to nearby Wewoka, Oklahoma, where he lives in a one-bedroom home.