When I was younger, I really liked the T.V. show The Monkees. Yes, it was 1995, so I was a bit behind the times, but that show is awesome and transcends time and space.
Anyway there was one silly episode called “Monkees Mind Their Manor.” Davy Jones gets called back to England to inherit some mansion but here’s the twist: He has to stay in the manor for 5 years! Hilarity ensues! That old “you get the inheritance if you do this really silly thing” plot has been used a million times. And even when I was in middle school, I got that those plot lines were sort of silly and overdone.
So we’re all familiar with this tried-and-true formula, right?
And now for something a bit worse:
When Frank Mandelbaum died in 2007, all of his grandkids were entitled to a $180,000 trust. There is, however, one big, fat asterisk:
The will specified that any offspring of Frank’s son Robert Mandelbaum would get none of it unless Robert was married to the child’s mother within 6 months of the child’s birth.
Oh yeah, and Robert is gay.
His and his partner’s son Cooper was conceived using a surrogate. Robert maintains that his now-husband Jonathan O’Donnell is the “only ‘mother’ the 16 month-old has ever known.”
The Manhattan Surrogate’s Court has yet to approve a settlement to ignore Frank Mandelbaum’s demand as discriminatory and against New York law.
The settlement is the only way to solve the dispute over Cooper, Robert Mandelbaum claims in court papers, because the will “imposes a general restraint on marriage by compelling Robert Mandelbaum . . . to enter into a sham marriage” — which he says violates state law supporting marriage equality.
Take a moment to let that sink in. This isn’t “stay in a haunted mansion with some kooky ghosts to get the money” kind of stuff. This is “tear your son’s family apart because you are too much of a bigot to just let him live the life that makes him happy, even though you are dead and don’t have to worry about what is going on with the living” sort of thing.
And let’s not forget that marrying a woman will not make your son straight:
“Requiring a gay man to marry a woman . . . to ensure his child’s bequest is tantamount to expecting him either to live in celibacy, or to engage in extramarital activity with another man, and is therefore contrary to public policy,” Anne Bederka wrote in court papers. “There is no doubt that what [Frank Mandelbaum] has sought to do is induce Robert to marry a woman.”
I don’t even know what else to say. This guy was an asshole, and that’s the legacy he’s left behind.
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