Haaland, Bonamici To Introduce Elder Pride Act

April 11, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. -  Today, Congresswomen Deb Haaland (NM-01) and Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01) announced that they will introduce the Elder Pride Act to address a lifetime of discrimination that has resulted in less financial security, more social isolation, and specific healthcare needs for older LGBT Americans. The Elder Pride Act amends the Older American Act to address the needs of older LGBT Americans and make necessary investments to support them. 

“All people deserve to be healthy and secure in old age, but the struggles that our LGBTQ+ communities endured for years have put their wellbeing in old age at risk,” said Congresswoman Deb Haaland, a member of the Equality Caucus. “The Elder Pride Act will ensure there are programs available to address some of the symptoms of decades of discrimination, so LGBTQ+ people of a certain age have the same level of opportunities as everyone else.”

“LGBTQ older Americans across the county have spent a lifetime fighting to be treated with dignity and respect, and they deserve our support in their senior years,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. “Too often, these seniors face severe challenges when seeking essential care. I am proud to partner with my colleague Rep. Deb Haaland in the House, and Sens. Bennet, Casey, and Murkowski, to introduce legislation to provide support services to meet the unique needs of LGBTQ seniors, particularly those in rural areas.” 

Specifically, the bill would:

  • Establish an office of Inclusivity and Sexual Health in HHS, including an Assistant Director of LGBTQ+ Policy, to increase access to health care for LGBTQ+ older Americans;
  • Support research on the LGBTQ+ aging population to address the challenges the elderLGBTQ+ community faces, with an emphasis on those in rural areas;
  • Create and administer a grant program to help support organizations that serve older Americans conducting programs that connect LGBTQ+ seniors with their non-LGBTQ+ peers and local LGBTQ+ organizations; and
  • Make grant funding available to organizations to conduct training programs to serve LGBTQ+ seniors and other vulnerable populations.

“We commend U.S. Representatives Deb Haaland and Suzanne Bonamici on supporting inclusive aging and sexual health care services, and ensuring they are more inclusive of LGBT elders and those living with HIV, who face a lifetime of discrimination that only continues as they age,” said SAGE CEO Michael Adams. “Compounding the problem, those who live in isolated areas often experience the added struggle of finding LGBT-welcoming care and connecting with their LGBT community. Although there are a variety of federal programs designed to assist them, none are specifically designed to provide equal access to services for LGBT older people. This legislation would change that.”

"LGBTQ+ elders are an important part of our community. These are people who, by simply coming out to their friends and families decades ago, helped jumpstart the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement. These brave people deserve the same quality care when they go to the doctor or seek assisted living like everyone else," says Adrian N. Carver, Executive Director of Equality New Mexico. "We know that older LGBTQ+ people, particularly those in rural areas, often encounter discrimination or a lack of cultural competence when they seek sexual health care or assisted living services. This bill is vital to removing those barriers and ensuring LGBTQ+ older individuals have equal access to quality care." 

U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Bob Casey (D-PA) today introduced the Inclusive Aging Act, comprehensive legislation to create and expand services to address sexual health care for older Americans and the diverse needs of older LGBTQ+ Americans.

“Our outdated laws are limiting care and resources for an entire generation of LGBTQ+ Americans,” said Bennet. “LGBTQ+ seniors already face significant barriers to accessing quality health care, especially if they live in rural communities. By establishing programs that make investments in the organizations assisting LGBTQ+ seniors, we will better meet the diverse needs of the LGBTQ+ community.”

“For far too long the needs of LGBT elders and seniors living in rural communities have been overlooked,” said Senator Casey, Ranking Member of the Senate Special Committee on Aging. “The Inclusive Aging Act would expand access to culturally competent health care services for LGBT elders and help reduce social isolation among older Americans in rural areas.”