Senator Merkley Co-Sponsors Act Protecting LGBT Seniors

Gay & Grey is proud to announce that Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley recently signed on as a co-sponsor of the LGBT Elder Americans Act of 2012 which would amend the Older Americans Act of 1965 to provide equal treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) older individuals.

Gay & Grey is a program of Friendly House that works to ensure the well-being of LGBT older adults in the Portland Metro area. Gay & Grey conducts trainings to increase service providers’ understanding of the unique issues facing LGBT older adults, advocate for inclusive and open housing, and build community through social events. Gay & Grey has been working closely with community partners and state representatives to advocate for the inclusion of LGBT communities in the Older American Act (OAA).

“Equality is a foundation of our country and I believe the Older Americans Act needs to be updated to ensure that all seniors are treated equally,” said Merkley. “LGBT seniors shouldn’t face added barriers when trying to get the care they need or the services they deserve.  All of our seniors deserve the best care possible.”

OAA serves as the country’s leading vehicle for delivering services to older people nationwide, providing more than $2 billion annually in nutrition and social services. Since its enactment in 1965, the OAA has aimed to ensure that older people have the supports they need to age in good health and with broad community support.

The OAA provides extra protection to vulnerable elders who face multiple barriers that can aggravate economic insecurity, social isolation, and various health challenges related to aging. However, even though LGBT individuals have increased vulnerability and unique barriers to healthy aging they have not been included in the OAA to date. As the OAA comes up for reauthorization, and as millions of LGBT people enter retirement age, advocates have an opportunity to ensure LGBT older adults received the services and support they need.

If passed, the LGBT Elder Americans Act of 2012 would:

  • Include LGBT individuals in the categorization of vulnerable population with the greatest economic and social need.
  • Permanently establish the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, the country’s first and only technical assistance resource center aimed at improving the quality of services and supports offered to LGBT adults.
  • Prioritize research and development grants for organizations working to improve services for LGBT older adults.
  • Require long-term data collection and analysis relating to the needs of LGBT older adults, program effectiveness and discrimination against LGBT older adults in long-term care settings.

Gay & Grey would like to thank the AARP Oregon state office for their efforts in this endeavor and for their partnership on behalf of LGBT older adults.

Alley Hector

About Alley Hector

Alley Hector is proud to be a Q, a PDXer and Just Out's Editor-in-Chief.

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