Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) has introduced a new bill to amend the Older Americans Act of 1965 to make it LGBT-inclusive. The amendment creates visibility for LGBT seniors by calling for data collection, professional training, and privacy protections that reflect their unique needs. It also would permanently codify the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging into law:
To address the unique challenges faced by LGBT older adults, the Center shall provide national, State, and local organizations, including those with a primary mission of serving LGBT individuals, and those with a primary mission of serving older adults, with the information and technical assistance the organizations need to effectively serve LGBT older adults.
The Center shall have 3 primary objectives, consisting of (A) educating aging services organizations about the existence and special needs of LGBT older adults; (B) sensitizing LGBT organizations about the existence and special needs of older adults; and (C) providing educational resources to LGBT older adults and their caregivers.
The Center would also be able to help connect organizations that support these objectives to grants and other funding opportunities.
It is among LGBT older adults that the consequences of inequality are most visible. Stigma stands in the way of getting proper healthcare, and many depend on “families of choice,” having lost the support of their families and not raised children of their own. Because of a lifetime of discrimination, as well as lower access to benefits like Social Security because of marriage inequality, LGBT older adults face significantly higher rates of poverty and even homelessness. This amendment will help ensure all seniors have access to the services they need and the care they deserve.