For Immediate Release
LGBT Aging Issues to Take Center Stage at Congressional Briefing on Capitol Hill
WASHINGTON - The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and Services and Advocacy for
LGBT Elders (SAGE) are convening a National LGBT Aging Roundtable this
week in Washington, D.C. In addition, the National Gay and Lesbian Task
Force has organized a congressional briefing on issues facing lesbian,
gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people as they age. The briefing
will be held April 22, 9:30--11 a.m. in Room 121 of the Cannon House
Office Building on Capitol Hill.
The injustice facing many LGBT elders was brought home just this week
by the painful story of Clay Greene and Harold Scull, an elderly gay
couple separated by officials in Sonoma County, Calif., who also sold
their possessions despite the measures the couple took to protect their
"The needs of the oldest members of our community have long been
invisible to many of us and ignored by most institutions in our
society," said Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and
Lesbian Task Force, which recently released Outing Age 2010: Public
Policy Issues Affecting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT)
Elders. "LGBT elders remain a highly vulnerable and largely
invisible aging population. We know that invisibility leads to greater
social isolation, which can lead to increased vulnerability in many
areas. We also know that discrimination across the lifespan leaves LGBT
people economically and socially vulnerable as they age. There are many
challenges but we also have concrete recommendations on how aging
advocates, policy makers and social service agencies can meet them."
Scheduled speakers at Thursday's congressional briefing are Laurie
Young, aging analyst and interim director of Public Policy and
Government Affairs of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, who will
discuss findings and recommendations in Outing
Age 2010; Hope Barrett, director of Elder Affairs of the Howard
Brown Health Clinic; Harper Jean Tobin, policy counsel of the National
Center for Transgender Equality; Joyce Pierson, elder rights advocate
and former staff of the Elder Rights Project of the National Center for
Lesbian Rights; and John Johnson, SAGE's federal director of
"Most Americans already face challenges as they age, but LGBT older
adults have the added burden of a lifetime of stigma; relationships that
generally lack legal recognition; and unequal treatment under laws,
programs and services designed to support and protect older Americans,"
said Johnson. "We must educate our elected officials and the public
about the facts: that LGBT elders are more likely to live in poverty,
face social and community isolation, and lack appropriate health care
and long-term care."
SAGE recently released a groundbreaking report representing one of
the first major collaborations between LGBT advocacy organizations and
mainstream aging organizations to comprehensively examine the issues
facing LGBT older adults.
Improving the Lives of LGBT Older Adults was co-authored by
SAGE and the Movement Advancement Project (MAP), in partnership with the
American Society on Aging, the National Senior Citizens Law Center, and
the Center for American Progress, with a foreword from the AARP. The
report was formally released at the American Society on Aging's national
conference, held last month in Chicago, Ill.
"SAGE's report outlines the issues and offers solutions, providing a
much-needed roadmap for creating a society where all older adults are
treated with dignity and respect," said Johnson.
The LGBT elder population is growing, with a large wave of openly
LGBT baby boomers poised to seek aging-related services over the next 25
years. Despite that, there is virtually no government-sponsored
research on aging that includes sexual orientation or gender identity
variables. This lack of data results in policy and practices that ignore
the unique realities and needs of older LGBT people. This is beginning
to shift, as the congressional briefing and Health and Human Services
Secretary Kathleen Sebelius' announcement last fall of plans to
establish the first national LGBT elder resource center indicates.
"This change can't come too soon," said Carey.
The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the grassroots power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. We do this by training activists, equipping state and local organizations with the skills needed to organize broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement's premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.
SAGE is the world's oldest and largest nonprofit agency dedicated to serving lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender older adults. Since its inception, SAGE has pioneered programs and services for older people in the LGBT community, provided technical assistance and training to expand opportunities for LGBT elders across the country, and provided a national voice on LGBT aging issues. In 2005, SAGE became the first official LGBT delegate at a White House Conference on Aging. SAGE is the first LGBT member of the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations. In 2008, SAGE celebrated its 30th anniversary with its 4th National Conference on LGBT Aging, sponsored by AARP. In February 2010, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and the Administration on Aging awarded SAGE a historic grant to create the nation's only national resource center on LGBT aging. For more information, please visit www.sageusa.org.