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Trump's attempt to roll back gains for LGBT Americans

Standing up for America’s LGBT elders

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 Older LGBT Americans continue to pave the way for equality. They display perseverance and courage regardless of the obstacles, they fight against discrimination and stand up to bigotry. And, they have done so for their entire lives. Unfortunately, the Trump Administration is attempting to roll back many of the hard-fought gains made by the LGBT community over the years. 

It is for that reason, that I have been using the resources available to me as Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging to fight on behalf of the millions of LGBT Americans ages 65 and older. Faced with prejudicial social stigma, this population experiences unique challenges that are often overlooked, including higher poverty rates, difficulty accessing health care and social isolation. Older LGBT Americans may be less willing than younger generations to discuss their sexual orientation or gender identify, either out of generational norms or a life-experience of discrimination. This can be particularly prevalent for older LGBT Americans entering senior living facilities. 

When this Administration attempted to undermine the rights of LGBT elders and remove key survey questions concerning the LGBT community, I took action, alongside SAGE and Human Rights Campaign, among others. In June, the Administration heeded my calls and announced it would continue surveying the needs of older lesbian, gay and bisexual Americans who receive services through key programs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This was an overdue first step, and there remains a number of actions this Administration has taken to isolate the LGBT community. I continue to call on the Administration to restore survey questions concerning transgender Americans and reverse their troubling course of action. Reducing data collection on LGBT older adults, and making decisions to no longer specifically focus on their needs, is threatening to erase the enormous gains that have been made in recent years.

Recently, I hosted a briefing on Capitol Hill with SAGE to educate congressional staff about the unique issues facing older LGBT adults. During, the briefing, representatives from SAGE, Movement Advancement Project, Human Rights Campaign and Mary’s House for Older Adults highlighted issues including visitation rights for unmarried partners in medical facilities, health care for older Americans with HIV/AIDS and a lack of resources and cultural understanding of the needs of rural LGBT seniors.  

Our work to secure equality for LGBT Americans is not done. The gains achieved by the LGBT community through years of hard work and perseverance are not set in stone. And, with the number of LGBT Americans age 65 expected to double by 2030 new challenges will continue to emerge. That’s why I will continue fighting to ensure that the Administration recognizes and supports the rights of LGBT Americans of all ages.

Senator Casey is Ranking Member, Special Committee on Aging