The senior U.S. senator from Colorado reintroduced on Tuesday legislation intended to aid LGBT elder Americans, which continue to face difficulty in accessing resources afforded generally to the older population.
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) introduced the omnibus bill, which is known as LGBT Elder Americans Act and aims to make additional resources available to elder LGBT Americans. The bill, which would build upon the Older Americans Act, would designate LGBT seniors as a vulnerable population and permanently establish a National Resource Center on LGBT Ageing. Bennet said in a statement the legislation is important because as the number of Americans age 65 and older surges over the next few decades, the number of LGBT older adults is expected to double to 3 million by 2030.
As baby boomers continue to age, it’s important that we understand the unique needs of this diverse generation. For LGBT seniors, questions about health care and financial issues can be particularly difficult without a trustworthy advocate to help guide them through these challenging decisions. And now, with full marriage equality thankfully the law of the land, many older LGBT couples have additional planning decisions to make.
This bill will help ageing service organisations assist older LGBT adults and their caregivers. Above all, it will provide LGBT seniors and their families the peace of mind that their best interests are being considered.”
Joining Bennet as original co-sponsors of the legislation are Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), the only out lesbian in the U.S. Senate, and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), who’s known as a champion of LGBT rights.
According to a fact sheet accompanying the bill, many Area Agencies on Aging, or local organisations that seek to foster independence in aging, offer LGBT cultural competence training to their staff, but very few offer LGBT-specific programs or outreach.
Less than half say they would be able to offer or fund LGBT-specific services, the fact sheet says. The legislation was first introduced in 2012 during the 112th Congress. In the previous Congress, Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.) introduced LGBT-inclusive legislation inclusive to the reauthorisation the Older Americans Act through fiscal year 2018, but neither her version, nor the Republican version of the legislation, saw any traction.
According to a fact sheet, The LGBT Elder Americans Act would make numerous accommodations for LGBT older Americans.
Michael Adams, executive director of Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders, or SAGE, praised the introduction of the bill, but anticipated difficulty in passage going forward.
On the heels of yesterday’s LGBT-inclusive White House Conference on Aging, it’s now time for Congress to act to address the many ways that federal aging services and programs are not effectively addressing the needs of LGBT older people .
That’s why SAGE is so grateful to Sen. Bennet for his leadership in re-introducing the LGBT Elder Americans Act. While it’s no secret that it’s difficult to move legislation through Congress in this polarised environment, the proposed act should be common sense for anybody interested in fairness for LGBT people.”