An older gay man in Texas is taken from his partner of 22 years by his own children, transferred to a nursing facility in St. Louis, and rendered anonymous so that his partner can never locate him. In North Carolina, a transgender older woman loses her retirement savings when her church (where she maintained her retirement account) discovers that she is transgender. And in rural Louisiana, a gay mandrives for hours to offer caregiving support to an older gay man with HIV/AIDS whose family has long abandoned him.
To be lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender, and to age into a system that offers marginal support for dealing with the consequences of discrimination, is a harsh reality for millions of LGBT older Americans.
Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) has introduced a bill that, if enacted, would extend long-overdue supports to LGBT older people through the Older Americans Act (OAA). It’s called the LGBT Elder Americans Act of 2012.
Widely described as the largest vehicle in this country for funding and delivering services to older people, the OAA provides more than $2 billion annually in nutrition and social services to elders nationwide. Yet, despite its stature, this landmark legislation provides no protections for, and doesn’t even mention, LGBT people.