Sen. Markey Introduces Legislation to Support LGBTQI+ Older Americans

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Sen. Markey in the Boston Pride Parade 2024. Photo by Bay Windows Staff.
Sen. Markey in the Boston Pride Parade 2024. Photo by Bay Windows Staff.

Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, today introduced the Elder Pride Act, legislation to support LGBTQI+ older adults and older adults living with HIV. The legislation would establish an Office of LGBTQI Inclusion within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to advocate, coordinate activities, recommend policies for, and collect data on LGBTQI+ older adults.

The bill would also establish a rural grants program to serve the unique needs of rural LGBTQI+ older adults, including through education and training, community outreach and creation of community spaces, and improved cultural competency.

"After years of exclusion and discrimination from health care settings, workplaces, and their local communities, LGBTQ+ older Americans deserve the protections their neighbors are afforded," said Senator Markey. "Queer and trans elders should be able to age with dignity, grace, and surrounded by community. The Elder Pride Act will ensure that all older adults are able to have access to the care and services they need."

Cosponsors include Senators Bob Casey (D-Penn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Alex Padilla (D- Calif), and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.).

"Older LGBTQ+ Americans have paved the way for equality their entire lives, persevering and fighting against discrimination and standing up against bigotry, regardless of the obstacles in their way," said Senator Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Aging. "After a lifetime of fighting for equality, Congress has an obligation to ensure they are protected. The Elder Pride Act will establish an Office of LGBTQ+ inclusion in the Department of Health and Human Services to ensure that these brave Americans get the services and support they deserve."

LGBTQI+ elders have fewer sources of support compared to their cisgender and heterosexual peers, face higher poverty rates, and experience poorer health care outcomes and access. And the need to coordinate LGBTQI+ services and activities from HHS to local area agencies on aging (AAAs), designated agencies that serve older adults in cities and counties across the country, is only growing. The number of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) older adults is estimated to increase to

7 million by 2030. Fewer than half of AAAs report they would be able to offer or fund LGBTQI+-specific services.

Earlier this Congress, Representative Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.), Chair of the Congressional LGBTQI+ Equality Caucus' Aging Issues Task Force, introduced the

Elder Pride Act and the Ruthie and Connie LGBTQI+ Elder Americans Act, two House of Representatives bills which contain the provisions of Senator Markey's legislation.

Endorsements include: SAGE, Human Rights Campaign, National Center for Lesbian Rights, MAZON: a Jewish Response to Hunger, interACT, National Council on Aging, Gerontological Society of America, American Society on Aging, Justice in Aging, National Women's Law Center, National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs, Grantmakers in Aging, Grantmakers in Health, Alzheimer's Foundation of America, LeadingAge, Whitman-Walker Institute, Fenway Health, New England Rural Health Association, Transhealth.

"NCOA applauds Sen. Markey for introducing the Elder Pride Act. We believe that every American deserves to age well, regardless of who they are or who they love. This legislation would make progress toward ensuring that LGBTQI older adults have equitable access to aging services through dedicated federal coordination and targeted grant programs, with a focus on rural populations. We know LGBTQI older adults and those living with HIV experience higher rates of social isolation and poverty, as well as barriers to health care. Now is the time to act, and we look forward to working in a bipartisan manner to advance the Elder Pride Act," said Ramsey Alwin, President and CEO, National Council on Aging.

"The Elder Pride Act would take vital steps in ensuring that LGBTQI older adults have the equitable and inclusive support they are afforded under the programs laid out in the Older Americans Act. Establishing an Office of LGBTQI Inclusion will address the unique challenges members of the community face through promoting aging services, offering grants, and in advocacy work. In addition, the rural outreach program will fill a large void in meeting the needs of people without access to reliable infrastructure," said James Appleby, BSPharm, MPH, ScD (Hon), Chief Executive Officer of the Gerontological Society of America.