New congressional task force seeks to help LGBT elders

Feb 24, 2016
Blog Post

A new bipartisan task force has been established — with Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) at the helm — seeking to tackle issues affecting LGBT elders.

The group, which was announced Thursday, consists of gay Reps. David Cicilline (D-RI) and Mark Takano (D-CA) as well as Reps. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.), Lois Frankel (D-Fla.), Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.), and Patrick Murphy (D-Fla). Each of these lawmakers is also part of the LGBT Equality Caucus in the U.S. House.

Deutch, who’ll serve as chair for the LGBT Aging Issues Task Force, said in a statement a “lifetime of discrimination” has undermined the right of many LGBT Americans to retire with dignity.

“With 76 million Baby Boomers entering or nearing retirement and more than 44 million Americans already over the age of 65, we cannot afford to ignore the unique challenges faced by LGBT seniors, especially in communities with large retiree populations like South Florida,” Deutch said. “The House Equality Caucus is committed to advocating for their needs, and I am honored to take the lead with our new aging task force.”

According to the statement announcing the task force, the group intends to push for legislative and administrative action to protect LGBT elders.

Takano, a co-chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus, said in a statement LGBT elders “face unique and uncomfortable challenges that are not widely understood or addressed.”

“The Aging Task Force will become an important resource and advocate for a community of people that often experience social and cultural isolation as they age,” Takano said. “I’m grateful to Congressman Deutch for chairing the task force and I look forward to shedding light on an issue that deserves our attention.”

Roddy Flynn, executive director of the LGBT Equality Caucus, said in a statement the task force will examine “the unique challenges and vulnerabilities” faced by LGBT elders.

“Too many elderly LGBT people are forced to go ‘back in the closet’ out of fear of discrimination or harassment from caregivers and housing providers,” Flynn said. “LGBT elders also suffer from higher rates of poverty, are more likely to live alone and lack any close relatives to call for help. These challenges are in addition to the declining health, diminished income and loss of friends and family that all older Americans face. Despite advances in civil rights, LGBT elders remain one of the most invisible, underserved and at risk populations among elders in the United States.”

(Originally published by the Washington Blade at http://www.washingtonblade.com/2016/02/18/new-congressional-task-force-seeks-to-help-lgbt-elders/#sthash.2P9eSORw.dpuf)