29 posts categorized "News Roundup"

July 31, 2013

Five years of political progress for LGBT older people—but more remains

Robert EspinozaToday’s post is from Robert Espinoza, Senior Director for Public Policy and Communications at SAGE. Follow him on Twitter.

When I began my role at SAGE nearly four years ago, I sensed the tipping point that SAGE had animated—and which would eventually transform the field of LGBT aging.

In April 2010, I was hired to create and oversee SAGE's national policy advocacy program. As the Baby Boomer generation entered retirement age, aging advocates were increasingly discussing the implications of a quickly aging country. LGBT aging issues were becoming more salient—thanks in large part to SAGE’s leadership, organizations such as the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and the work of local advocates around the country—yet LGBT aging remained largely marginalized in the policy discourse and in the broader cultural narrative.

In response, SAGE had steadily built the infrastructure to imagine the large-scale, national strategies that millions of LGBT older people deserved. In the months prior to my arrival, SAGE issued a landmark policy report on LGBT older adults, in partnership with a few leading national organizations. It opened an office in Washington, DC; joined the influential Leadership Council of Aging Organizations as its only LGBT organization; and received a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to seed the creation of what would later become SAGE’s National Resource Center on LGBT Aging.

Our political charge then was to make policy issues visible and relevant to leaders in government, the aging field and the LGBT rights movement. Our charge was to begin changing the representations of what it means to age as LGBT people. We sought transformational change.

This summer, as SAGE celebrates five years of achievements under the previous strategic plan, I reflect on what has changed politically for LGBT elders.

Here are seven ways in which SAGE dramatically improved the policy conversation—and the political realities—for LGBT older people over the last few years:

  1. A heightened visibility of LGBT aging in the policy discourse. Through our leadership on reauthorization of the Older Americans Act (OAA)—developing original policy analysis, holding Congressional briefings, persuading the aging network to support our goals, and more—SAGE brought considerable attention to the omission of LGBT elders from the OAA, which awards more than $2 billion annually to aging services nationwide, yet allocates very little to LGBT aging. Currently less than $2 million of OAA funding reaches LGBT aging programs. In May of this year, a bill was introduced to make the OAA more inclusive of LGBT people—a top policy goal for SAGE as reauthorization heats up.

  2. Robust and original knowledge on the wide array of policy barriers facing LGBT older people. Since SAGE released our first major policy report in early 2010, we continue to highlight policy remedies for addressing the challenges facing LGBT elders, including landmark reports on transgender aging, spousal impoverishment, economic security and health equity, among others. In 2011, we partnered with the National Academy on an Aging Society to produce an LGBT aging-themed issue of Public Policy & Aging Report, marking the first time a mainstream aging organization issued a comprehensive policy report on LGBT aging.

  3. A stronger grassroots infrastructure of local and state organizations that engage and advocate with LGBT older people. The grassroots centerpiece of SAGE’s advocacy program is SAGENet, our network of local and state affiliates around the country. Since January 2010, SAGENet has grown remarkably—from 14 to 24 affiliates (a 71 percent increase). These local advocates in every region of the country provide critical services to LGBT older people in their communities and advocate for policy change. In 2011, many of these leaders launched statewide efforts to secure Medicaid protections for same-sex couples as part of SAGE’s multi-state initiative.

  4. A visible aging field that addresses LGBT issues and champions our efforts. In 2011, SAGE was a prominent player in the first-ever White House LGBT Conference on Aging. Additionally, our partnership-approach has influenced aging leaders to take public stances on LGBT issues—from a series of widely distributed LGBT-supportive recommendations from the Leadership Council on Aging Organizations, to a media event showcasing the aging network's support of marriage equality (weeks before the historic SCOTUS opinions), to a Congressional briefing on marginalized elders with the country’s leading aging organizations working in communities of color—and more.

  5. A firm spotlight on racial inequality and its effects on LGBT elders of color. Our involvement in the Diverse Elders Coalition (DEC) has focused attention on the shared barriers facing marginalized communities as they age: widespread discrimination, housing and employment insecurity, a dearth in government funding, and more. SAGE helped launch a website on these barriers and issued an original policy report. And in April of this year, as part of National Minority Health Awareness Month, we released a policy report on the health issues facing LGBT elders of color, which reached the wide array of national advocates working in health, aging, LGBT rights and racial justice.

  6. Enhanced representations of LGBT older people in the media and in social change advocacy. The number of news stories on LGBT aging has surged since 2010, reflecting the growing visibility of these issues, as well as the dedicated attention that SAGE has placed in reshaping the media narrative. Our large-scale marketing campaigns have reached millions and won multiple awards from GLAAD and the International Academy of the Visual Arts. In January 2013, SAGE launched SAGE Story, a national digital storytelling and advocacy program for LGBT elders, funded generously by the AARP Foundation. And our online presence has exploded; today SAGE reaches more 70,000 people online per month—up from 6,000 people per month in January 2010.

  7. Public policies that better support LGBT older people, and ultimately, their physical and material conditions. Our ultimate goal is to change the public policies that govern our lives. SAGE maintains a year-by-year listing of these policy achievements on our website, which includes multiple policy wins in areas such as Social Security, Medicaid, HIV and aging, and federal definitions of "greatest social need," among many others. This work is made possible by dedicated SAGE staff and our national partners.

Our policy successes in the last few years are impressive and wide-reaching—but work remains to be done. In September of this year, SAGE will unveil its new strategic plan for the next three years, and I'll offer a preview of the policy goals we seek to achieve in that time frame.

In the meantime, here’s a toast to everyone who supported our advocacy vision, helping make our aging realities more hopeful. Here’s a toast to LGBT older people, who helped our movements pave the way. And here’s a toast to achieving progress and sparking change.

Stay tuned—we’ve only just begun.

Read more about SAGE’s successes over the last five years in our latest issue of SAGEMatters.

June 26, 2013

SAGE Celebrates Supreme Court Decision to Overturn DOMA

2873_001Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) congratulates Edie Windsor and joins her in celebrating the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), paving the way for the federal government to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples. Today, the Supreme Court affirmed that loving and committed couples of all ages who marry deserve equal legal respect and treatment.

“This is a joyous moment in our country’s history, thanks in large part to Edie Windsor, who fought many hard-won battles along the way to this victory,” said Michael Adams, Executive Director of SAGE. “Older lesbian and gay couples were especially hard hit by DOMA, and their health, well-being and quality of life will now be vastly improved. Congratulations to Edie, a longtime SAGE hero, on breaking down another barrier to full equality for LGBT elders!”

Today’s ruling is a tremendous victory that means that thousands of older lesbian and gay couples will be able to better protect their families because they will finally have equal access to federal benefits, programs and protections that provide safety and support for older Americans.

Windsor’s case highlighted the real harms that DOMA causes legally married older same-sex couples. LGBT elders are less financially secure and in poorer health than American elders as a whole. Many LGBT elders, like their heterosexual peers, rely on federally provided benefits, programs and protections to help ease their financial burdens. Many of these federal benefits, from Social Security to Medicare, are founded on the presumption of marriage, yet DOMA denied access to these benefits even to legally married same-sex couples.

In another victory for marriage equality, the Supreme Court also ruled today in Hollingsworth v. Perry that the proponents of Proposition 8 do not possess legal standing to appeal the lower court rulings that invalidated Prop. 8.  The decision makes permanent the landmark Federal District Court ruling that found Prop. 8 unconstitutional, and means the swift restoration of marriage equality in California. Now, same-sex couples can legally marry in 13 states and the District of Columbia.

With these decisions adding to the momentum for marriage, SAGE will continue to stand with the majority of Americans who support marriage equality, looking toward the day when DOMA is overturned completely, same-sex couples of all ages can marry in any state, and LGBT elders have access to the same protection and support as all older Americans.

To learn more about the impact of marriage equality on LGBT older adults, see SAGE’s Marriage Equality issue page. For stories of older LGBT couples, visit SAGE Story.

March 28, 2013

Inside the Supreme Court Marriage Equality Hearings

This is a post by Aaron Tax, SAGE’s Director of Federal Government Relations. He attended the Prop 8 and DOMA hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday this week, and tweeted live from the steps of the Supreme Court. Visits twitter.com/sageusa to follow all the latest news.

I had the good fortune to attend the Supreme Court hearings this week on Prop 8 and DOMA. However, after standing in line in the dark and the cold on two long consecutive mornings, the last thing I wanted to hear from the Supreme Court was anything about standing (albeit standing of a different variety).  Given the long and circuitous procedural paths each of the cases took to get to the Supreme Court, that was, however, one of the common themes over two days of arguments on same-sex marriage.  The first day focused on whether individuals have a Constitutional right to get married  to someone of the same sex. The second focused on whether the federal government must recognize those marriages.  I was fortunate to be able to spend some time with Edie, the named plaintiff in the second case, Windsor v. United States.

 

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Aaron Tax and Edie Windsor

 

Continue reading "Inside the Supreme Court Marriage Equality Hearings" »

March 27, 2013

Edie’s Day in Court

Today the Supreme Court will hear the case United States v. Windsor, the indomitable Edie Windsor’s challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Her case highlights how DOMA prevents older same-sex couples from equal access to key supports like Social Security, Medicaid, veterans benefits and retiree benefits like spousal health care coverage—which has real and lasting impacts on LGBT elder’s health and financial security. As Edie takes her fight—which has become the fight of all LGBT older people—to our nation’s highest court, SAGE is proud to stand alongside her.

Continue reading "Edie’s Day in Court" »

March 26, 2013

5 Possible Outcomes for Today's Historic Prop 8 Case

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Supreme Court clerk, Aaron Tax and others waiting for the Prop 8 case to be heard
This is a guest post by Aaron Tax, SAGE’s Director of Federal Government Relations

Today, the Supreme Court is hearing the “Prop 8 Case,” officially called Hollingsworth v. Perry.  It’s the first of two marriage cases the Court will hear this week—the other being SAGE constituent Edie Windsor challenging DOMA. As framed by scotusblog, the two issues at stake in today’s case are:

  1. "Whether the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits the State of California from defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman; and
  2. whether petitioners have standing under Article III, § 2 of the Constitution in this case.”

Continue reading "5 Possible Outcomes for Today's Historic Prop 8 Case" »

February 6, 2013

Love & Loss: Moving On from Hurricane Sandy; One Older Gay Man's Story

The following is a guest post by Damien Wade, Case Manager at The SAGE Center  

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SAGE Case Manager Damien Wade Visiting with James McCormick Who Lost His Partner David in Hurricane Sandy

David B. Maxwell, 66, and James McCormick, 72, were together for 5 years and had recently moved into their own home in the Midland Beach neighborhood of Staten Island, known for its beautiful waterfront views and serenity. They had cats. They had each other. And by all accounts they had planned to spend their lives devoted to one another.

When I started working with James, I learned that he had suffered a stroke in mid-2012 that left him with limited mobility and confined to a wheelchair.  He had to move out of the home he shared with David and into the Carmel Richmond Nursing Home.

I never met David, but I imagine him to have been a nurturing and caring man. He was described by his neighbor as a “lovely sweet gentleman,” and a devoted partner whose whole life was James.  After James’ stroke, David would visit him all the time at the nursing home. David’s was the first face James saw in the morning and the last he saw at night.

Continue reading "Love & Loss: Moving On from Hurricane Sandy; One Older Gay Man's Story" »

January 21, 2013

Presidential Inaguration 2013: The Obama Administration and LGBT Aging Issues

 

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President Obama and the First Lady with Tony Schmidt and SAGE Constituent Jerry Hoose
The following is a guest post by Aaron Tax, Director of Federal Government Relations at SAGE.

 

Today is the second inauguration of President Barack Obama. It’s a great day to celebrate the President’s accomplishments from the past four years and to look forward to what we hope will be four more years of progress for LGBT older adults.

As you know, President Obama has done a tremendous amount for all LGBT people during his first term–from signing the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, to issuing a memorandum on hospital visitation (providing for same-sex partner visitation and medical decision-making) and being the first sitting President to come out (so to speak) in support of marriage equality.  The list goes on and on.

Continue reading "Presidential Inaguration 2013: The Obama Administration and LGBT Aging Issues" »

January 18, 2013

Creating Change around LGBT Aging Issues

Next week from January 23 – 27 marks the 25th annual National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change. Held at the Hilton Atlanta in Atlanta, Georgia, and organized by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Creating Change will welcome over 3,500 people from all walks of life and from across the country to network and strategize on new ways to move the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) movement forward.

 

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SAGE Executive Director Michael Adams presents the SAGE Award to Kathy Greenlee, Assistant Secretary for Aging at Creating Change 2012

 

Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) will once again host the LGBT Elder Day-Long Institute, and other trainings throughout the 5-day conference, to open dialogue and tackle issues faced by LGBT elders.

Continue reading "Creating Change around LGBT Aging Issues" »

January 16, 2013

Welcome to the SAGE Blog!

When we launched the new SAGEUSA.org last fall, we set out to build an improved online space for anyone seeking information on LGBT aging and the services and programs for LGBT elders offered by SAGE. We included an Issues Section to give concise, detailed facts about the many challenges that LGBT elders face.  We made SAGE’s groundbreaking policy reports, videos, and podcasts more readily available with an expanded multimedia library. And we made the site more accessible with a larger default font, text enlarger and a Reading Help page, among many other improvements and updates. 

Now, SAGE is thrilled to introduce the newest addition to our website—the SAGE Blog!

Continue reading "Welcome to the SAGE Blog!" »