(July 14, 2021) A new issue brief released today by SAGE and the Movement Advancement Project, Why LGBT Older People Need the Equality Act Now, details how LGBT older people would benefit from passage of the Equality Act. This legislation would update federal civil rights law to explicitly protect people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in key areas of life.
Protections for LGBT older people vary across the United States as more than half of states lack laws explicitly prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, and places of public accommodation. Without the Equality Act, LGBT older people remain at risk of being evicted from their homes or residential communities, kicked out of a business that is open to the public, denied health care, or turned away from government services simply because of who they are.
"We spent last month celebrating our community's history for Pride now we must honor that by addressing how long LGBT elders have been facing discrimination without nationwide legal protections," said SAGE CEO Michael Adams. "There are still 29 states across the country without explicit laws protecting LGBT elders from discrimination, and this resource makes it crystal clear why that has to change, and why the Senate must pass the Equality Act now."
"After facing a lifetime of discrimination, LGBT older people should not have to worry whether they will be treated unfairly while going to the doctor or living in a long-term care facility," said Ineke Mushovic, MAP Executive Director. "For LGBT older peopleas well as women, people of color, immigrants, and people of minority faithspassing the Equality Act is vital: no one should have to live in fear of discrimination simply because of who they are or who they love."
The Equality Act would update existing civil rights law by filling critical gaps in nondiscrimination protections in public places; protecting against sex discrimination in public accommodations and federally funded programs; and adding explicit nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people.
It is critical to expand prohibitions on discrimination to more of the places that LGBT people, people of color, immigrants, and people of faith visit daily. This is especially true for the more than 2.7 million LGBT people who are 50 years or older in the United States:
LGBT older people experience discrimination across many areas of life, including at work, at the doctor's office, within residential communities and when seeking housing, and when accessing social supports like senior centers
Nearly half of LGBT people who have entered long-term care or have had a loved one in long-term care experienced mistreatment in a care facility
LGBT older people may be less likely to go to the doctor or seek assistance because they fear discrimination or have experienced discrimination
Through the Equality Act, Congress has the opportunity to pass comprehensive nondiscrimination protections that will ensure LGBT older people can age with health, dignity, and respect.
Read the issue brief here: sageusa.org/equalityactbrief .
SAGE is the world's largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older adults. Founded in 1978 and headquartered in New York City, SAGE is a national organization that advocates for public policy changes that address the needs of LGBT older people. SAGE also offers supportive services and consumer resources to LGBT older adults and their caregivers, provides education and technical assistance for aging providers and LGBT organizations through its National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, and cultural competence training through SAGECare. With staff located across the country, SAGE coordinates a growing network of affiliates across the country.
MAP's mission is to provide independent and rigorous research, insight and communications that help speed equality and opportunity for all. MAP works to ensure that all people have a fair chance to pursue health and happiness, earn a living, take care of the ones they love, be safe in their communities, and participate in civic life.