Sam Beaumont - A Gay Rancher's Fight to Keep His Home

Sam and his partner Earl Meadows spent over 20 years building and working an 80-acre ranch in Bristow, Oklahoma. The couple was more likely to attend the local rodeo than a pride march. Together they raised Sam's three sons from a previous marriage. When Earl's parents got older, Sam tended to their every need, often spending the night with Earl's mother when she got too sick to care for herself.

Their time together came to an end in 2000 when Earl died of a stroke. Unfortunately, the notarized will Earl drafted to leave everything to Sam had only one witness – Oklahoma requires two. To make matters worse, almost all the couple's assets were in Earl's name.

If Sam and Earl could have married, the property would have passed to Sam automatically. But since Oklahoma law doesn't recognize same-sex relationships, the home Sam and Earl shared went to Earl's

disapproving cousins who rarely spoke to Earl when he was alive and had never even set foot on the property. Meanwhile, Sam is struggling to hold on to what little he has left. Read more about Sam Beaumont.

Sam's story is just one of many heartbreaking examples of why we need protections for our relationships. Partners are kept from hospital rooms and prevented from making decisions about medical treatment, children are denied inheritance and Social Security benefits, gay seniors are left homeless when their ailing partners enter nursing homes because Medicaid's long-term coverage requires homes to be “disposed of” unless occupied by a spouse, and the list goes on and on.

For twenty years, the ACLU's Lesbian and Gay Rights Project has been committed to making sure stories like Sam's get heard. We are working with the other national LGBT groups to find people willing to share their experiences. We strongly feel that if America hears first-hand accounts of how our relationships are short changed, many anti-gay laws and amendments will be overturned.

But we can't do it alone. We need your help finding people who are willing to talk about their experiences. Sam is one of many courageous people willing to publicly tell his story in hopes that it will encourage others to do the same and help us change the national dialogue on marriage for same-sex couples.

If you or anyone you know has a good story to share about the harms we face because of our discriminatory laws, please fill out our online couples survey

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