Lambada legal his has filed a federal lawsuit against a senior housing facility for allowing discrimination and abuse towards one of their senior lesbian residents. Marsha Marie Wetzel has claimed she has been verbally and physically abused by other residents since they discovered she was gay.
Marsha claimed that when another resident found out she had been with her female partner for other 30 years and they had raised a son together word travelled fast and the community, that had always been friendly towards her up until that point, suddenly became nasty, judgemental and abusive towards her.
Marsha explained that she had been with her partner Judy for 30 years when she died of cancer and her partner’s family refused to recognise her as Judy’s partner. They seized Judy’s property and assets and evicted Marsha, leaving her with no choice but to seek help from social services.
This story is far more common than people realise. Many of us fail to enter a legal civil partnership either because it is not recognised or allowed where we live or we do not think it’s necessary.
But unfortunately if something happens to your partner and you have no will or no recognised status as a couple very often assets are given to the deceased person’s family, leaving the surviving partner with nothing.
Marsha finally plucked up the courage to do something about the abuse and she spoke to administrators at the facility, who she claimed ignored her pleas and she became even more marginalized and alienated.
Karen Loewy, Senior Attorney and Seniors Program Strategist for Lambda Legal says the housing facility calls itself a ‘community of caring’ but this is far from what they are portraying. Lowey said:
The facility and its staff have ignored our client’s pleas for help after being harassed and attacked because she is a lesbian and because she is a woman who loved and created a family with another woman for thirty years,”
Marsha stated that she could sense things were going to get worse for her as time went on.
Many people displayed, ‘gay hate’ and there were a handful of residents I could tell were really going to give me trouble.”
Karen Loewy highlights the problem for older LGBT members by stating:
Finding housing that is accepting and welcoming is a real challenge for LGBT older people, so much so that many seniors feel forced to hide who they really are. Being forced back into the closet doesn’t allow seniors in our community to age with dignity.”
This is a problem that really shouldn’t be playing a part in today’s society and we owe it to ourselves and our fellow LGBT members to make sure we highlight this problem and fight against it. It’s also worth looking at your current status with your partner and try to cover for all eventualities to ensure you or your loved one never ends up in a situation like this because you didn’t make a simple trip to a lawyer and do whatever you can legally to protect each other should one of you die unexpectedly. As horrible as it sounds, we can’t always rely on other people to do the right thing as sometimes prejudice is so deep rooted people are unable to acknowledge our relationships with our partners no matter how long we have been together and no matter how much love we have for each other.