The walls of Alice Herman’s home are covered in photographs. Herman and Sylvia Purdue, her partner of 45 years, smile in scenes from birthdays and hospital rooms. In black-and-white photos from their younger days, their hair is teased, their makeup flawless.
After Purdue died a few years ago, Herman was left with two cats and enough money for two months’ rent. Years of Purdue’s hospital bills had chipped away their savings. Because Purdue died before the Supreme Court struck down a key part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act last summer, Herman could not receive Purdue’s Social Security benefits.
Herman prepared to live in her car with the cats. With no other options, she went to the front office of Triangle Square — a Hollywood apartment complex that caters to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender senior citizens — clutching her photos. “Please like me,” Herman, 78, recalled telling them, desperately showing the photos. “Please, see that we’re nice people. Please help me.”
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