Two weeks ago, SAGE asked you to tell Congress to oppose the so-called American Health Care Act. You spoke up - loudly and clearly. Thanks to you, and to thousands of other outraged Americans, we stopped this dangerous legislation in its tracks.
Two weeks ago, SAGE asked you to tell Congress to oppose the so-called American Health Care Act. You spoke up - loudly and clearly. Thanks to you, and to thousands of other outraged Americans, we stopped this dangerous legislation in its tracks.
It is often said that one of the greatest measures of a society is how it treats and remembers its elders. SAGE’s commitment to an equitable world where LGBT elders are valued and have boundless opportunities is inspired by this time-honored maxim. The inauguration of our country’s 45th President is a critical moment to reiterate this message.
Our values as a society must support and honor our elders both because their hard work and perseverance laid the foundation for all that we have today, and because we still very much need their wisdom and contributions. This is especially true for LGBT elders, whose courage in the face of danger and adversity paved the way for marked progress on LGBT equality in recent years. Our LGBT elder pioneers did not lead the movement birthed at Stonewall by being quiet and invisible. In the same vein, faced with dangerous threats on multiple fronts, LGBT elders and their advocate – SAGE – refuse to be silent and invisible now.
We must ensure that our older generations have the support they need to age safely and with dignity and respect. Like older Americans in general, most LGBT elders rely on Social Security in order to have enough to live on during their retirement, and rely on Medicare and Medicaid for their health and long term care. Just like other older Americans, LGBT elders rely on community services funded by the federal Older Americans Act. They rely on federal support for senior housing. They rely on the progress the federal government has encouraged through training of aging service providers and the establishment of anti-discrimination protections. These programs and protections are even more essential for elders who are LGBT, people of color and members of other diverse elder communities – all of whom are especially vulnerable due to the accumulated effects of lifetimes of discrimination and marginalization.
While our elders need and deserve our support, we need them just as much. As we enter a threatening new era when our society’s fundamental values and commitments to each other are under attack, we need the wisdom and fortitude of our LGBT elders now more than ever. We will apply the lessons they learned through decades of hard work and struggle, using that knowledge to build a better future. We need their creativity, their spirit, their resilience.
In the days, months and years ahead, SAGE will stand firm with our LGBT elders for a policy agenda that makes older Americans a national priority, and that ensures that LGBT elders and elders from all diverse communities are at the center of that priority. We will do everything in our power to advocate for such an agenda. We will vigorously oppose any effort to roll back progress. We will relentlessly pursue our commitment to equity for diverse elder communities.
We at SAGE are inspired and fortified by the wisdom of our elders who have lived through decades of witch hunts, brutality, criminalization, stigma, AIDS and so much more. Our elders remind us that through all of these unspeakably difficult challenges, we stood firm, spoke out, and pushed forward.
Count on SAGE and our many supporters to continue that great tradition by standing with LGBT elders and honoring their unique voices and wisdom. This week you can find SAGE making sure LGBT elders’ voices are heard at the Women’s March in our nation’s capital, leading an elder activism institute at the national LGBT Creating Change conference in Philadelphia, and gearing up for a new initiative – SAGETable – that will connect LGBT people of every age all across the country.
Please, join us! Let’s be proud to be measured by how we treat and remember our elders.
LGBT elders needing emotional support are invited to call the SAGE LGBT Elder Hotline. SAGE established the hotline to make sure that LGBT elders have support no matter where they live. Provided in partnership with the GLBT National Help Center, calls are being taken at 888-234-SAGE (7243) on Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to midnight and from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Time on Saturdays.
This post originally appeared on the Center for Consumer Engagement in Health Innovation website on January 13, 206. Read the original post here.
By Aaron Tax
This blog is part of a series to highlight the dangers of the repealing the Affordable Care Act. Multiple times a week, Community Catalyst will highlight a different constituency to draw attention to the benefits the ACA has afforded them and to outline what a loss of coverage would mean.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) older adults face many of the same health and aging challenges other older adults face, but more pronounced. As a result, they are arguably more at risk if the incoming administration and Congress repeals the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without a replacement plan and/or makes significant and harmful changes to Medicaid and Medicare.
LGBT older adults face unique risks within the health care system due to the standard issues facing an aging population combined with their sexual orientation or gender identity, such as:
Because of higher rates of health disparities, un-insurance, poverty and a greater reliance on programs like Medicaid and Medicare - two programs that could be facing significant retooling and subsequent funding cuts in the coming years - the protections provided by these programs and enacted in the ACA are critical for improving the quality of life for older LGBT individuals.
As we enter an uncertain time, we believe that we must do more to honor and support the LGBT elders who fought the fight and paved the way for the recent advances we have seen on LGBT rights. The least we can do is ensure that this population still has access to the foundational supports provided by the ACA, Medicaid and Medicare.
Aaron Tax, Director of Federal Government Relations, Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE)
As we share the latest SAGEMatters with you, we are living through a period of unprecedented change. Perhaps nothing reminds us of this more sharply than this year’s high-stakes elections, which have turned long-standing political and social assumptions on their heads.
This theme of change runs powerfully through the features in this issue of SAGEMatters. Inside, you’ll find George Takei’s take on personal evolution; learn how Jeffrey Erdman has taken the LA leather scene by storm in his 50s; and follow an inspiring conversation with Kate Kendell, Mara Keisling and Carmen Vazquez about the changing landscape of gender identity. You’ll also learn how the federal government (after a lot of pushing by SAGE) is moving to transform publicly-funded aging services to make them more LGBT-friendly. Join us in celebrating the realization of a decades-long dream for our communities in New York City, as SAGE announces the construction of the first two LGBTfriendly elder housing communities in the Big Apple. And so much more.
This time of great change and evolution sets the stage for the launch of SAGE’s new strategic plan. The overriding goal of the plan is to dramatically expand the impact of SAGE’s work so that LGBT people can grow older with boundless opportunities for growth and enrichment. We believe that we can achieve this transformative vision by tapping into our legacy of “taking care of our own,” by building ties across generations, by encouraging communities to become LGBT age-friendly and by convincing partners of all kinds to get involved. This issue of SAGEMatters includes a special feature on our new plan—we hope you’ll be as excited as we are.
For me, all of this has a special personal significance as I celebrate my 10th anniversary at the helm of this amazing organization. I’m so proud of the great progress that we have made together on behalf of our LGBT elder pioneers. And I’m tremendously passionate about the next chapter of SAGE’s work.
I know that as you read through this latest SAGEMatters it will be even clearer to you why SAGE’s efforts matter more than ever. Let’s keep working together so that all LGBT elders have the support they need to live lives of boundless opportunity.
Chief Executive Officer
SAGEMatters is the biannual magazine of Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE). View and download the expanded Fall 2016 issue here.
At SAGE we see the results of this week’s election through our commitment to building an equitable world where all LGBT elders are valued and have boundless opportunities. SAGE’s commitment is shaped by our core values, which include diversity, respect and compassion.
With a corrosive election season behind us, we now must put aside divisive rhetoric and exclusionary proposals that fly in the face of our values in favor of a national governing agenda that addresses the pain and inequities that so many Americans face. One that honors all elders, including those who are LGBT. One that ensures that every older American can grow old free of discrimination. One that provides our elders with financial security, adequate health care, affordable and welcoming housing, and culturally competent services.
SAGE stands firm for a policy agenda that makes older Americans a national priority, and that ensures that LGBT elders and elders from all diverse communities – who are among the most vulnerable in our society – are at the center of that priority. SAGE will do everything in our power to advocate for such an agenda. We will vigorously oppose any effort to roll back progress. As is our tradition, we will combine our advocacy with a commitment to work in communities nationwide to ensure that LGBT elders have the services and supports they need.
This year’s campaign season has left many in our communities deeply fearful of what is to come. In the face of such fears, we at SAGE are inspired and fortified by the wisdom of our elders who have lived through decades of witch hunts, brutality, criminalization, stigma, AIDS and so much more. Our elders remind us that through all of these unspeakably difficult challenges, we always found hope, stood firm, and made progress. We do not know what is to come in the months and years ahead. But what we do know is that we will honor our elders’ example by continuing to build the equitable world that they, and we, deserve.
LGBT elders needing emotional support are invited to call the SAGE LGBT Elder Hotline, which went live on November 1. SAGE recently established the hotline to make sure that LGBT elders have support no matter where they live. Provided in partnership with the GLBT National Help Center, calls are being taken at 888-234-SAGE (7243) on Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to midnight and from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Time on Saturdays.
SAGE has published a new infographic outlining its involvement in the #TellACL comment period.
In 2016, SAGE delivered more than 2,800 comments to the Federal Administration for Community Living, regarding a plan that would guide state aging offices in allocating resources for diverse elders as they age – including, for the very first time, LGBT older people. The comments from SAGE’s members and allies were collected as part of a collaborative effort led by the Diverse Elders Coalition.
This past June, SAGE asked the Consumer Finance Protection Board (CFPB) whether it “views credit discrimination on the bases of gender identity and sexual orientation … as forms of sex discrimination prohibited under the ECOA.” In August, we heard back and the answer (in many words) was "yes."
According to the CFPB, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) outlaws “credit discrimination on the bases of gender identity and sexual orientation." This guidance effectively bars lenders across the country from discriminating against LGBT individuals when they need credit -- whether to buy a house, apply for a credit card, obtain a car loan and any other circumstance relating to credit. In its letter to SAGE, the CFPB urges people to report “any situations in which creditors treat applicants less favorably” because of their gender identity and/or sexual orientation. You can easily file a complaint on the CFPB's website.
This monumental letter is extremely important to LGBT older people. As SAGE CEO Michael Adams stated in a recent Slate article: “LGBT older people face higher poverty rates than their non-LGBT peers, while facing disproportionate rates of social isolation. This means that they don’t always have a support network in place when facing challenges related to finances. The CFPB’s clarification with respect to the Equal Credit Opportunity Act moves the ball forward in ensuring that LGBT older people have access to credit on an equal playing field.”
We couldn't agree more. In case you're interested, you can read the CFPB's letter to SAGE here.
August 22, 2016
Via Email Greg Link
Administration for Community Living
U.S. Administration of Aging
Department of Health and Human Services Washington, DC 20201
RE: Request for New Information Collection for a Program Instruction on Guidance for the Development and Submission of State Plans on Aging, State Plan Amendments and Intrastate Funding Formula
Dear Mr. Link:
The undersigned organizations appreciate the efforts the Obama Administration and the Administration for Community Living (ACL) have made, and the leadership they have shown, in addressing the challenges facing lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) older adults.
As a population that is too often invisible and whose needs go unmet, LGBT older adults need the support of our federal government. This draft Program Instruction continues to demonstrate the Administration’s support. From the Midwest to the deep south, from big cities to small towns, it has the potential to make a substantial impact on the lives of LGBT older adults in communities across the country.
In particular, we appreciate the efforts in which ACL has engaged to ensure that the voices of LGBT older adults, as well as those who work with and care for them, are being heard. To that end, we are submitting this letter in response to the Notice published in the Federal Register on June 21, 2016, which seeks comment regarding the inclusion of a provision in ACL’s Program Instruction that would provide guidance regarding the obligation of State Units on Aging to target resources to older adult populations that have the “greatest economic and social need.”
We commend ACL for this very constructive proposal, which expressly recognizes that sexual orientation and gender identity “can limit the degree to which older adults experience full inclusion in society and are able to access available services and supports.” However, while the proposed guidance requires the States to describe approaches for assessing the need of isolated populations, we are concerned that it does not unambiguously require the States to assess the need of LGBT older adults.
LGBT older adults are at heightened risk of greatest social need. The Older Americans Act (“OAA”) defines “greatest social need” as the need caused by “physical and mental disabilities” and by “cultural, social or geographic isolation, including isolation caused by racial or ethnic status.” There is substantial evidence that the LGBT older adult population has poorer physical and mental health outcomes than their heterosexual and cis gender contemporaries. At the same time, LGBT elders are more likely to be isolated than their peers: they are twice as likely to live alone, half as likely to have close relatives to call for help, and four times less likely to have children to assist them.
LGBT older adults also are at heightened risk of greatest economic need. The OAA defines “greatest economic need” as “the need resulting from an income level at or below the poverty line.” LGBT older adults are more likely to live in poverty than other older adults.
Indeed, 15.9 percent of single gay men over 65 lived in poverty, compared to just 9.7 percent of single heterosexual men their age, while six percent of lesbian couples age 65 and older have incomes below the poverty line, compared to 3.5 percent for heterosexual married couples in the same age group.
Although LGBT older adults are at heightened risk of greatest economic and social need, many are not receiving the services they need to live independently. Indeed, a 2001 Administration on Aging study found that LGBT older adults are 20 percent less likely than other older adults to access government services such as housing assistance, meal programs, food stamps, and senior centers. Yet, despite this evidence, most State Units on Aging are not making any systematic effort to assess and address the needs of LGBT older adults.
We strongly believe that only a Federal mandate requiring State Units on Aging to assess the needs of LGBT older adults will ensure the maximum inclusion of LGBT older adults in programs funded under the OAA. We therefore urge ACL to modify the proposed guidance to expressly require States to describe the actions taken to assess the needs of LGBT older individuals. While each State would retain the right to determine, based on the data collected, whether LGBT older adults have greatest economic and social need, we expect that after engaging in a comprehensive, good-faith, needs assessment, most States will conclude that they do. We further believe that, by targeting this population, States will ultimately save resources by allowing more LGBT older adults to live independently. We stand ready to assist in this effort.
A Better Balance
Action Wellness, (formerly ActionAIDS), Philadelphia, PA
AFFIRM: Psychologists Affirming Their LGBT Family, Stony Brook, NY
AIDS Foundation of Chicago
AIDS Service Association of Pinellas, Pinellas County, Florida
ALISS Aging Lesbians in South Seattle, Seattle, WA
American Civil Liberties Union
Any Lab Test Now Wilmington NC
Apicha Community Health Center, New York, NY
At Home Fitness LLC, Pinellas County, FL
Aurora Mental Health Center, Aurora, CO
Austin Prime Timers, Austin, TX
Barton's Angels, Inc., Northhampton, MA
Better Living for Seniors, Pinellas County, Florida
Boulder County Area Agency on Aging
Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center, Allentown, PA
CareLink, Providence, RI
Center in the Park, Philadelphia, PA
Center on Halsted, Chicago, IL
Chicago House and Social Service Agency, Chicago, IL
CJE SeniorLife Chicago, IL
Cleveland LGBT Community Center
Clinton County Office for the Aging, Clinton County, NY
Council on Aging of Volusia County, Volusia County, Florida
County of Santa Clara, Office of LGBTQ Affairs, San Jose, CA
CrescentCare, New Orleans, LA
Equality Florida Institute
Ethos, Jamaica Plain, MA
Family Values @ Work
Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency, Rochester, NY
FORGE, Inc., Milwaukee, WI
Friendly House, Inc, Portland, OR
Gay Alliance, Rochester, NY
GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD)
GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality
Hispanic Health Network
Hiv 55 and over
Hudson Pride Foundation, Hudson, NY
Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center, Kingston, NY
Latino Commission on AIDS
Let's Kick ASS
LGBT Elder Initiative, Philadelphia, PA
LGBT Elder Initiative of Pinellas/Pasco Co, Florida
LGBT Elders Now, Miami Beach, FL
LifePath, Turners Falls, MA
Log Cabin Republicans
Martin Law Office LLC, Boulder CO
Mary's House for older Adults, Washington, DC
Mass Home Care Association
Massachusetts Councils on Aging
Metro Wellness & Community Centers, St. Petersburg / Tampa, FL
Metropolitan Community Churches
Milwaukee County Department on Aging
Milwaukee LGBT Community Center
Mushpa + Mensa
National Alliance for Caregiving
National Asso. for Hispanic Elderly
National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs (NANASP)
National Association of Social Workers (NASW)
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National Coalition for LGBT Health
National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare
National Council of Jewish Women
National LGBTQ Task Force
National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund
Open Door Health Center of IL
Rainbow Health Initiative, Minneapolis, MN
Resource Center, Dallas, TX
Right at Home Hinsdale/Oak Park/ Chicago
Right at Home St. Petersburg
Rural AIDS Action Network (RAAN), St. Cloud, MN
Rush University Mecial Center - Department of Health & Aging, Chicago, IL
SAGE of PROMO Fund, Saint Louis, MO
SAGE Wilmington of the Cape Fear Coast affiliated w/ The Frank Harr Foundation
San Francisco AIDS Foundation
SAVE, Miami, FL
Seniors Helping Seniors West L.A.
Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. (SIECUS)
ShareTheCaregiving, Inc. aka Share The Care™
Southern Jewish Resorce Network for Gender and Sexual Diversity (SOJOURN), Atlanta, GA
SU Aging Studies Institute, Syracuse, NY
The Bland Law Firm, LLC, Clearwater, FL
The Center Project, Columbia, MO
The Global Justice Institute
The Human Rights Campaign
The Jewish Federation of North America
The LGBT Center Orange County, Santa Ana, CA
The LOFT: LGBT Center, White Plains, NY
The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care
The Pride Center at Equality Park, Wilton Manners, FL
The Pride Center of New Jersey
The Virginia Equality Bar Association
Tompkins County Office for the Aging, Ithaca, NY
Touching Hearts at Home, Florida
Training to Serve, St. Paul, MN
United Church Homes, Marion, OH
Voycetress Media. LLC, Harrisburg, PA
Westminster Presbyterian Church, Washington, DC
William Way LGBT Community Center, Philadelphia, PA
WLH, LLC dba Front Range Hospice & Palliative Care, Frederick, CO
As the first anniversary of Obergefell v. Hodges approaches, it’s a good time to recap a few developments that show continued progress since last June. In 2015, Jim Obergefell received the inaugural LGBT Pioneer Award for his courage and persistence, which inspired the Supreme Court to rule in favor of marriage equality, forever changing the landscape of LGBT social politics.
In an interview with SAGE last year, Obergefell said, "Our country still hasn’t lived up to the promise of equality that’s part of our shared American identity," adding that he would work toward passage of the Equality Act, a bill that would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include protections for LGBT people in employment, housing, public accommodations and other areas. The bill has since attracted significant Congressional support, including that of two main 2016 presidential candidates.
Of course, bills and resolutions are one way to sort social progress; as the old proverb begins, "give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day." If you teach a man to fish, however, you feed him for a lifetime — which basically translates to expanding leadership positions to include LGBT people, which helps to provide sustainable long term support for the community.
Consider LGBT servicemen and women. The nation has come a long way since "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" was repealed five years ago. On May 17 in what's been applauded as a historic step for the military, the U.S. Senate confirmed Eric Fanning as Army secretary, making him "the first openly gay person to lead a military service."
The transgender community is making strides as well. The U.S. military is now considering a policy that would allow transgender troops to serve openly, and despite recent setbacks in North Carolina and other states with discriminatory bills like HB2, transgender advocates led by Reverend Debra J. Hopkins and others, continue to push forward. Hopkins’ efforts have gained the support of allies like U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch who was described earlier this month as "the world's most powerful advocate for trans rights."
Also recently, President Obama appointed Barbara Satin to his Advisory Council on Faith-based Neighborhood Partnerships. Satin, who attended the White House Conference on Aging as a SAGE delegate last year, is the first transgender woman to serve on the advisory council.
In a blog for the National LGBTQ Task Force, Satin wrote, "As a trans woman activist and an old person (I turned 81 two days after the conference), I felt a special responsibility to give the reality of trans aging – our issues and needs – a high profile."
This is progress.
Chris Delatorre is the Senior Digital Content Manager at SAGE. Learn more about SAGE’s federal advocacy at sageusa.org/federal. May is Older Americans Month. Connect on social media with #OAM16 and join SAGE's #TalkB4UWalk campaign.
The recent reauthorization of the Older Americans Act left out LGBT older Americans.
On Thursday the Washington, D.C. Steering Committee of SAGE hosted its annual SAGE & Friends event, giving constituents an opportunity to engage individual and corporate donors, community partners, policy advocates and other SAGE supporters, in order to learn firsthand about the work SAGE is advancing on a national level and in the D.C. area.
With the recent reauthorization of the Older Americans Act (OAA), there is plenty to talk about in the nation’s capitol. While President Obama’s signature preserves a critical safety net for older Americans, LGBT-inclusive amendments in the House and Senate were overlooked. This means there is still work to be done on this front, and SAGE is committed to seeing that these provisions make it into the next iteration of the OAA.
As part of SAGE’s response to the reauthorization, CEO Michael Adams said that SAGE "will continue to draw attention to the unique needs of LGBT older adults and advocate aggressively so that all relevant federal laws and programs address their needs and enable them to age with the dignity and respect that they deserve."
As the country’s leading vehicle for delivering services to older people nationwide, the OAA aims to ensure that older people have the supports they need to age in good health and with broad community support. If this piece of legislation indeed places emphasis on more vulnerable elders who face multiple barriers and health challenges related to aging, then why overlook the needs of the LGBT community?
The LGBT population in the U.S. is growing and gaining visibility. Gallup numbers from 2015 estimate the national average of LGBT residents to be 3.6 percent, and by 2030 the number of lesbian, gay and bisexual people older than 65 will double to about 3 million people. The impact of these statistics becomes greater when we consider the human stories behind them.
Just days after the OAA reauthorization was signed, former U.S. Senator Harris Wofford (D-Pennsylvania) announced plans to marry a man in what CBS News calls a “moving” editorial for the New York Times. Wofford, 90, said, "I don’t categorize myself based on the gender of those I love. I had a half-century of marriage with a wonderful woman, and now am lucky for second time to have found happiness." Despite an apparent disregard of our nation’s growing LGBT older population, Wofford is an example of how LGBT elders are both present and prominent, even at the seat of government.
George Takei at SAGE & Friends in LA: "I'm grateful for what you've done."
The former senator isn’t the only prominent LGBT elder to come out at an older age. At SAGE & Friends LA in April, social media powerhouse and LGBT icon George Takei shared on what it meant for him to support the community from inside the closet for so long, before finally coming out in his 70s. Now approaching 80, the actor of Star Trek fame is bringing special attention to LGBT older people who have paved the way. "To those of you who have been in the trenches since '69 when Stonewall happened, we have a great profound gratitude to you but also I feel that we have a debt," Takei said. "I'm grateful to all of you for what you've done."
Learn more about SAGE’s federal advocacy at sageusa.org/federal. May is Older Americans Month. Connect on social media with #OAM16 and follow the SAGE blog for inspiring stories of our LGBT elders.