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Obama opposes laws ‘designed to take rights away’

White House responds to efforts to repeal N.H. marriage

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The White House, in response to a Blade inquiry about the possible vote to repeal same-sex marriage rights in New Hampshire, said Thursday night that President Obama “believes strongly in stopping laws designed to take rights away.”

“While the president does not weigh in on every single action taken by legislative bodies in our country, the record is clear that the president has long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same-sex couples,” said White House spokesperson Shin Inouye. “The president believes strongly in stopping laws designed to take rights away.”

The statement doesn’t explicitly express support for same-sex marriage or mention New Hampshire. At the same time, the statement doesn’t include language found in previous White House statements on marriage that states should “determine for themselves how best to uphold the rights of their own citizens.” Such language was included in the White House response to the North Carolina anti-gay marriage measure that will be on the ballot in May.

The New Hampshire Legislature is likely to vote sometime this month or in February on repeal of the state’s same-sex marriage law, which Gov. John Lynch (D) signed in 2009. Lynch has said he would veto repeal legislation should it come to his desk, but the Republican supermajority in the legislature may have enough votes to override his veto.

The vote to repeal the marriage law in New Hampshire has become an issue in the presidential race. Both former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry spoke in favor of repeal prior to the primary there.

But each of the candidates who have expressed support for a Federal Marriage Amendment — Perry, Romney, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum — have implicitly backed the repeal of the New Hampshire law because such a measure would prohibit same-sex marriage throughout the country.

Last week, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said he didn’t know the president’s position on potential repeal of the New Hampshire marriage law. The White House statement issued Thursday follows up on his response from that time.

 

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13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. Fred Beloit

    January 13, 2012 at 11:45 am

    I wish good gay men and good gay women well. However, marriage is a common word representing a common meaning. This word and meaning go back to the beginning of history in every literate society (pardon my redundancy). I don’t believe any court in the land should have the power to change the meaning of a word in common use. In a republic such as ours this power should exist only in legislation, enacted law.

    I wish little people well. I don’t believe any court in the land should have the power to change the meaning of a word in common use, tall, to describe them, even should they want it to be so. In a republic such as ours this power should exist only in legislation, enacted law. Y is now tall? X is now married?

    We destroy language at our peril.

    • Jenny

      January 17, 2012 at 3:01 pm

      The US Supreme Court in 2010 redefined the meaning of “person” to include corporations. For that matter, I notice you are using the word “gay” to mean “homosexual,” which only goes back a few decades. The meanings of words change in any living language.

    • John Peter

      January 18, 2012 at 12:56 am

      I appreciate your wishing me well. Although I am sure they must be out there somewhere, I am personally unaware of a single gay individual or organization that wishes to change the meaning of the word “marriage.” Far from it. We wish to continue to honor and respect everything for which the word stands. We only ask to be included within its common meaning.

      • Mickey

        January 27, 2012 at 10:06 am

        So would that include “tall” people in the short category from now on…duhhh

  2. Ken

    January 13, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    When Obama says his views on gay marriage are evolving, it frustrates gay rights advocates, but it also deprives the homophobes of a way to disagree with him. He’s saying, “Let’s not talk about that quite yet.” It’s obvious from his non-defense of DOMA and his position against removing marriage rights that he is in favor of it.

    If Obama makes a statement supporting gay marriage right now, he engages the Republicans and start his campaign spending too early. The Republicans don’t yet have a coherent anti-gay position for him to attack, and it would allow them to present a united front against Obama, which would make them look better than they do now with their squabbling.

    After the Republicans have chosen their candidate and have figured out what they are going to do to harm gay people, only then is there something concrete for Obama to talk about. If he makes a statement in support of gay marriage, as I suspect he will, the time to do it is sometime during the campaign. If he does it at the convention, he side-tracks the Republican candidate to social issues. If he waits until the end of the campaign, he takes the Republican candidate by surprise. The timing depends on circumstances and political judgment.

    None of the people who oppose marriage would vote for him anyway. Younger voters, who outnumber older voters, would see him as a courageous champion for human rights against the forces of darkness. That would most likely propel some stay-at-home Obama supporters into the voting booth. He’d get a net gain of votes.

    • Mickey

      January 27, 2012 at 10:19 am

      Ken, Does your “Republicans trying to figure out what they are going to do to harm “gay” people” statement also to apply to say, raising children and telling them “No” to every cockamamie idea they come up with, from our natural rebelliousness? Just because an idea is new to a “new” person doesn’t mean it hasn’t already been thought of 1000 times before that “new” person was even conceived. History’s trash bin is full of examples of rebellion. Just look at what has worked. Of course if one let’s his rebellious nature rule his life [I want to be right] then that person may fit the definition of a fool.

  3. RWB

    January 13, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    The headline is deceiving. Apparently Obama is against taking away gay rights, but based on his record, the fourth amendment and other constitutional rights, not so much.

    • YO'bama

      January 13, 2012 at 6:13 pm

      The headline is not deceiving, you just need to read it again. It clearly states that Obama is against laws that discriminate. Which we already knew from his history.

      • Mickey

        January 27, 2012 at 10:23 am

        Nobama, There are literally too many examples to list to contradict your “against discrimination. Too see our own mistakes we almost have to have someone else point them out. Rationalization is one of our worst enemies.

  4. Terry Angel Mason

    January 13, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    A TIME FOR US AND MARRIAGE EQUALITY!

    “Today, you would think that because I am an African-American, that I would have awakened with a new zest for living, a belief that all things are possible and a renewed hope in America, the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave. But instead, I felt a chilling numbness emotionally very similar to the kind of feeling that I experience when someone close to me in my family has just died!”

    These were the words penned in my Pulitzer Nominated book, “Love Won’t Let Me Be Silent” after Proposition 8 passed in California, amid the euphoria and jubilation of electing America’s first African-American President. At that time my feelings were very conflicted because there was a part of me that was overjoyed because Barack Obama had been elected. Conversely, another part of me was in complete despair because of the bigotry and hatred that would later take on the form of denying same-gender-loving people the right to adopt children in other states and/or the right to wed the person of their choosing; in addition to the countless suicides, abuse and extreme acts of violence committed against LGBT community – all the direct result from the implementation of this hideous Bill!

    Prior to the passing of Proposition 8 (aka Prop. 8), African-American clergy, Catholics, Evangelicals, Mormons and some non-denominational Christians urged their parishioners to vote “YES” on Prop. 8, ignoring and completely disregarding the fact that thousands of LGBT people attend their churches and participate in every aspect of ministry, pay their tithes, and have an undying devotion to the ministry. Parishioners were told, “We must do everything we can to preserve the Institution of marriage.” Oh, if they would have only acted earlier with the same fervor years ago, perhaps heterosexual Christians would not lead the country in divorces and separations — long before Prop. 8, gay marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships were ever established.

    Yes, you heard me right! I was amazed to discover that born-again Christians are more likely than others to experience a divorce. These statistics have been the case for quite some time. Even more disturbing, perhaps is that when these divorcees publicly announce their divorce, many of them are rejected by their community of faith rather than provided with support and healing. It is apparent that many Christians are quick to criticize gay unions, having forgotten to remove the beam from their own eye before trying to get the speck out of their brother’s eye (Matthew 7:5). And what of the Bishops, whose stories garner constant media attention in the Black churches throughout our great country? The same Bishops, who bash from the pulpit, are on their third and fourth marriage, cleverly cover up sex and drug scandals, and violently abuse their wives. The media is constantly exposing the fact that more and more of these same Bishops are committing adultery and fathering illegitimate children with women in their congregations, other than their spouses. And let’s not forget to mention the ones who are on the downlow (meaning they are closeted gays) who cheat with other men!

    What is even more alarming is that HIV/AIDS and poverty in the African American and Hispanic Communities is staggering! Furthermore, many, if not most of these same Pastors, Bishops, Priests and ministers who encouraged their parishioners to vote “Yes” on Prop 8, don’t even have a food pantry for their members, senior care programs, effective HIV/AIDS outreach programs and sadly, no prison ministry rehabilitation program; a tragic oversight, especially since there are over 170,000 inmates in the California penal system (many of whom are Black and Hispanic). Yet, they thought nothing of spending over 60 million dollars to oppose same-sex unions, money that they could have and should have used to fund much needed programs like these! Moreover, another glaring example of the Church’s misdirected priorities, are the many cases of their parishioners being evicted out of their apartments and homes, unable to procure financial support from their home churches. The same home church that will justify and miraculously produce money to fight Marriage Equality issues like Prop 8!

    One reason I always cringe when I hear Pastors bash the gay community from the pulpit is because little do they realize, had it not been for the gay community, little or nothing would have been done to combat the AIDS virus, and the death toll would have been even more catastrophic. It should also be noted that because the African-American and Hispanic American heterosexual community is disproportionately affected by the pandemic, subsequently, their faith community offers little to no services. As a result of working hand-in-hand with many AIDS organizations, I can attest to the fact that thousands of heterosexual males and females frequently access HIV treatment and Case Management services provided by the gay community — whom by the way attend these same churches. I am extremely grateful to the gay community for responding so compassionately and effectively to those suffering from the virus because the majority of services and medications that are offered today is the direct result of their resolute response. The LGBT community continues to effectively and compassionately minister to the needs of people from all walks of life; doing what many Evangelical Christians have failed to do, even today!

    As a child, I was taught to believe that the Constitution created by our founding fathers would always protect the rights of the people. Even if, humanity somehow lost its way in the muck, mire and rhetoric of misguided souls and redneck politicians, I believed that somehow, truth and justice would prevail and win out in the end because after all, did we not elect an African-American President? Isn’t that proof? I know that such a belief to some may seem naïve. Still, deep down inside, I keep hearing the chant of our forefathers boldly declaring to my heart and consciousness these empowering words that I refuse to cast aside: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men (and women) are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness . . .”

    These words became a reality on June 24, 2011, for the people of New York when their State Senate approved marriage equality legislation, despite of the disgraceful passing of Proposition 8 in California three years earlier. All the despair I felt back in 2008 when Prop. 8 passed was a stark contrast to the immense joy that I experienced yesterday along with the multitudes from every race and gender, who exuberantly celebrated in the streets of New York after such a long awaited victory. But all the euphoria wore off when I awakened this morning, and was slapped in the face by the reality that I still lived in California. I wiped the sleep out of my eyes, showered, got dressed and boarded a train headed to luncheon that a circle at my church was giving for the fathers and mothers in our congregation.

    Even though I have been blessed financially and have garnered international attention and media acclaim as an author, I have chosen not to move out of my present neighborhood. I like the interaction with the people I meet and it keeps me in touch with my community and aware of the things that people living in my neighborhood experience in their day-to-day struggles to survive. It also allows me to experience firsthand what is like to be black, gay and Christian, all of which I am very proud of!

    Because I am well known in my community, (though many adamantly disapprove of my sexual orientation and interpretation of scripture), it affords me the opportunity to dialogue with ministers, local politicians, and with the movers and shakers in my community and I am often able to effect change because I live among them. Admittedly, it isn’t easy and I often become discouraged because of their close-mindedness and deep seated homophobia and think of retreating to a more upscale community where same-gender-loving people are more accepted and celebrated, but I just can’t do it! I can’t do it because of the lingering homophobic plague stalking my community that endangers the lives of children and youth I see going to and fro on a day-to-day basis. I cannot tell you how many times I have had to intervene to stop fights and bullying on buses and trains (one of the primary reasons I use public transportation). I realize that this is dangerous and often places me in great jeopardy, but I refuse to sit idly by and let another innocent child or young adult be abused by a hateful, ignorant person, simply because they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender! The reality is that in these situations, few people are willing to come to the aid of our children, even if they feel the bullying or abuse is wrong or inappropriate and this saddens me – but I refuse to be one of those people!!!

    What is perhaps more devastating about the passing of Prop. 8 is not only the negative social effect it has had on our community, but also the devastating financial affect it has also generated because we missed the tremendous window of opportunity for financial gain and the potential to create many much needed new jobs. You see my brothers and sisters, prejudice and intolerance is unfortunately a double edged sword because it tragically eliminated the possibility of California bringing in an estimated 385 million dollars of revenue over a ten year period, if same-gender-loving people had been allowed to marry. Statistically speaking, married people often accumulate more wealth and have more to spend on property and consumer goods, which bolsters tax revenue.

    Thank God that in New York; Governor Cuomo had the wisdom and good sense to see the tremendous economic potential and opportunity that his state had to improve its economy. He wisely acted by seizing this opportunity to sign the Bill into Law only hours after it had been passed. It was a good thing that he did, because wedding plans are likely to generate an estimated $391 million dollars to the state’s economy, according to a report by the Independent Democratic Conference.

    In the wake of New York’s good fortune, California now teeters or the brink of bankruptcy, unable to balance its budget, barely even able to keep the doors of its schools and higher learning institutions opened, due to mismanagement of funds and overspending, and sadly, because of missed opportunities. Even though Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn overturned Prop 8, the matter is still not resolved because the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has been sitting on the matter. I believe the delay is due to Prop. 8 being a very contentious issue and the Commissioners themselves are conservatives and fear the wrath of right wing conservatives that could result should they overturn the proposition. In the meantime, California’s economy is in critical condition and on financial life support! Moreover, it is in desperate need of an economic boost. Many single people in the LGBT community are still being unfairly denied the right to marry the person they love and receive their entitled constitutional and federal benefits. Perhaps, the courageous move on the part of New York and Washington, D.C. lawmakers will embolden them and motivate them to do what they already know in their hearts is the right thing to do and overturn Prop. 8. Their courageous intervention would rescue our failing economy which is currently in desire straits and preserve the integrity and promise of our Constitution by courageously granting equal rights to same-gender-loving people – accomplishing the very objective that we elected them to do!

    By Terry Angel Mason, Global Author

  5. Cayla Kastner

    January 16, 2012 at 10:55 am

    There is a prblem if you think this is going to be an issue in this ellection for anyone but the religis right, and while they are seriously sick NAZIs. The fact is their not conserned about the economy. Their saved and Jesus will provide for them.

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U.S. Conference on HIV/AIDS to be held virtually Dec. 2-3

Fauci, Levine, Pelosi to speak at opening session

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Dr. Rachel Levine, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Health, is among speakers at this week’s U.S. Conference on HIV/AIDS. (Blade photo by Michael Key)

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; and Dr. Rachel Levine, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Health who became the nation’s highest-ranking transgender public official earlier this year, are among dozens of experts scheduled to participate in the 25th Annual U.S. Conference on HIV/AIDS scheduled to take place virtually Dec. 2-3.

Fauci and Levine were scheduled to join Harold Phillips, director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy; and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, as speakers at the conference’s opening plenary session at noon on Thursday, Dec. 2. 

Phillips and Levine were expected to provide information about President Joe Biden’s plans for updating the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, which Biden was scheduled to announce on Dec. 1 at a White House World AIDS Day event.

Members of the U.S. People Living With HIV Caucus were also expected to discuss the federal policy agenda on HIV/AIDS at the opening plenary session. 

In addition to the opening plenary and three other plenary sessions, one more on Thursday, Dec. 2, and two on Friday, Dec. 3, the conference was scheduled to include 140 workshop sessions on a wide variety of HIV/AIDS related topics.

The annual United States Conference on HIV/AIDS is organized by the D.C.-based national HIV/AIDS advocacy organization NMAC, which was formerly known as the National Minority AIDS Council before it changed its name to that of its widely known initials NMAC. 

“NMAC leads with race to urgently fight for health equity and racial justice to end the HIV epidemic in America,” the organization states on its website. “Health equity with communities of color is everyone’s challenge.”

Several of the workshop sessions cover the topic of expanding the local, state, and national efforts of using pre-exposure prophylaxis drugs known as PrEP as a means of preventing HIV infection. 

Other workshop sessions include: HIV CURE – Hot Topics in HIV Cure Research; A Town Hall on Aging and HIV; COVID, HIV, and Racism – How Providers Can Make a Difference; Expanding the Pleasure and HIV Prevention Toolkit: Kink As Harm Reduction; It’s About Time – HIV Research Just For Transgender Women; and Impact of COVID-19 on HIV Prevention Services Among U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-Funded Community Based Organizations.

The conference’s fourth and closing plenary session, Foundation Stones to Building the EHE Effort in Indian County, “will highlight the work of those addressing HIV and COVID in Indian Country, rural states and among Alaska Natives with limited infrastructure,” according to a conference agenda statement. 

“This plenary addresses these challenges and provides innovative solutions by the Indian Country – making the case to support Native HIV care by providing essential building blocks,” the agenda statement says. 

Paul Kawata, NMAC’s executive director, says in a statement in the conference’s agenda booklet that he and his NMAC team are disappointed that the 2021 conference is being held virtually for the second year in a row.

“But we felt the issue of safety was simply too critical to ignore,” Kawata said in his statement. “I’ve been very concerned about our loved ones over 50 living with HIV through the whole COVID pandemic,” he said, noting that people in that category were dealing with isolation as well as a higher risk for COVID.

“I hope this conference, even though it is virtual, will help alleviate some of that isolation,” Kawata said. “We’ve worked very hard to make this conference not just an opportunity for training and education, but a chance to connect with others, reinforce those strands in your support net, and hopefully, establish some new connections.”

More information about the U.S. Conference on HIV/AIDS and instructions on registering to attend can be obtained at nmac.org.

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N.C. lieutenant governor compares gays to cow feces, maggots

“If homosexuality is of God, what purpose does it serve? What does it make? What does it create? It creates nothing,” Robinson said

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North Carolina Lt. Governor Mark Robinson (Blade file photo)

WINSTON-SALEM – Speaking to parishioners at the Berean Baptist Church in Winston-Salem last Sunday, November 14, North Carolina Lt. Governor Mark Robinson attacked the LGBTQ+ community in remarks caught on the church’s livestreaming video on YouTube.

Robinson said in his sermon that he questioned the “purpose” of being gay; said heterosexual couples are “superior” to gay couples; and that he didn’t want to explain to his grandchildren why two men are kissing if they see that on television the Charlotte Observer reported.

The state’s Republican Lt. Governor then went on to compare being gay to “what the cows leave behind” as well as maggots and flies, who he said all serve a purpose in God’s creation. “If homosexuality is of God, what purpose does it serve? What does it make? What does it create? It creates nothing,” Robinson said.

Democratic lawmakers expressed their outrage on Twitter:

According to the Observer, “The video was distributed Friday by a pastor at St. John’s Metropolitan Community Church in Raleigh, the day before the Transgender Day of Remembrance. A protest rally was held Friday in front of Robinson’s office, but organizers also read the names of transgender people who have been killed.

This man’s theology and religious practices are not only flawed and a perversion of the Christian tenets; he places countless people at risk of violent attacks and even murder every time he opens his mouth,” said Vance Haywood, senior pastor at St. John’s, in a statement.

Robinson is expected to run for the governor’s chair in 2024. In another video of the sermon captured the Lt. Governor ranting in transphobic terms his opinion of the Trans community:

North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson (Twitter Video)

Video of remarks made by North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson courtesy of the Charlotte Observer.

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LGBTQ elder care facilities open nationwide, but discrimination persists

Advocates say seniors face challenges despite groundbreaking advances

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The Ariadne Getty Foundation Senior Housing facility opened this week in Los Angeles. (Blade file photo)

Marsha Wetzel, an out lesbian, shared her life with her partner of 30 years, Judith Kahn, at the couple’s home in Illinois until Kahn died in 2013 of colon cancer.

As is the case with some same-sex couples who never married, Kahn’s family took legal possession of the couple’s home several years later, forcing Wetzel, who suffered from severe arthritis, to move into the Glen St. Andrew Living Community, a retirement and assisted living facility in Niles, Ill.

According to a lawsuit filed on her behalf in 2016 by the LGBTQ litigation group Lambda Legal, when word got out that Wetzel was a lesbian after she disclosed her sexual orientation to a fellow resident, she was called homophobic slurs, spat on, and assaulted on several occasions by other residents of the facility. The lawsuit, which later resulted in a court ruling in Wetzel’s favor, charged that officials at the Glen St. Andrew facility illegally failed to take action to prevent Wetzel from being subjected to abuse and threats by fellow residents and retaliated against her when she complained.

Lambda Legal announced one year ago, on Nov. 20, 2020, that Wetzel passed away at the age of 73 of natural causes after a landmark 2018 appeals court ruling in her favor affirmed that residential facilities such as the one in which she lived are legally responsible for the safety of tenant residents.

“Marsha spent the rest of her days in a senior living community where she was out and affirmed,” said Lambda Legal attorney Karen Loewy, who represented Wetzel in the lawsuit.

Advocates for LGBTQ seniors were hopeful that the 2018 U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruling in the Wetzel case would speed up the gradual but steady advances in the rights of LGBTQ elders in long-term care facilities and in society in general.

A short time later, the New York City-based national LGBTQ elder advocacy group SAGE expanded its programs providing cultural competency training for the nation’s long-term care residential facilities. And in some cities, including New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, LGBTQ specific retirement and long-term care facilities began to open to provide LGBTQ elders with a wide range of “wrap around” services in addition to a safe place to live.

But LGBTQ elder advocates were taken aback in October of this year when news surfaced that transgender U.S. Army veteran Lisa Oakley, 68, was denied placement in more than two-dozen long-term care facilities in Colorado in 2020 and earlier this year.

“When they found out I was transgender, a lot of the facilities didn’t want me,” Oakley told USA Today. “A lot of transgender people, I’m sure, face the same thing,” she said. “We’re humans, just like everybody else.” 

Oakley told other media outlets her ordeal in trying to gain admission to a residential care facility began in October 2020, when she became unable to care for herself due to complications from diabetes. Her first choice was a facility in her hometown in rural Craig, Colo., where she had lived for the previous 25 years. She believes that facility turned her down because of her gender identity.

A social worker who assisted in Oakley’s applications for long-term care facilities said the facility in Craig said Oakley would have to be placed in a private room, which was at the time unavailable, “because she still has her ‘boy parts’ and cannot be placed with a woman” in a shared room. 

Many other Colorado facilities to which Oakley applied for admission, according to social worker Cori Martin-Crawford, cited the COVID pandemic as the reason for not accepting new residents. But as COVID related restrictions began to subside, other facilities continued to deny Oakley admission.

With Martin-Crawford’s help, Oakley finally found a facility that is LGBTQ supportive in Grand Junction, Colo., which is nearly three hours away from her hometown of Craig, where she had hoped to remain.

LGBTQ activists expressed concern that the discrimination that Oakley faced took place in the state of Colorado, which has a state law that bans discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Experts familiar with long-term care facilities for older adults have said many private elder care facilities can get around state LGBTQ nondiscrimination laws by claiming other reasons for turning down an LGBTQ person.

Michael Adams, the CEO of SAGE, told the Blade that the wide range of programs and initiatives put in place by SAGE and other groups advocating for LGBTQ elders in recent years have resulted in significant changes in support of LGBTQ seniors.

“It is the case now that in almost all states there are one or more elder care facilities that have been trained through our SAGECare program,” Adams said. “But it’s nowhere near what it needs to be,” he said. “It needs to be that there are welcoming elder care facilities in every single community in this country” for LGBTQ elders.

Adams was referring to the SAGE program started recently called SAGECare that arranges for employees and other officials at elder care facilities throughout the country to receive LGBTQ competency training. The facilities that participate in the program are designated “SAGECare credentialed,” and are included in SAGE database lists available to LGBTQ elders looking for a safe facility in which to reside.

SAGE spokesperson Christina Da Costa provided the Blade with data showing there have been 136,975 professionals trained at a total of 617 SAGECare credentialed organizations nationwide. Out of 617 organizations, 172 are residential communities. Also, out of the total of 617 are 167 Area Agencies on Aging, Aging and Disability Resource Centers, Senior Centers, and senior Ombudsman offices.

Da Costa said 278 of the credentialed entities that have received the SAGECare training throughout the country are “other aging focused nonprofit and for-profit businesses.”

According to SAGE, there are 12 SAGECare credentialed elder care facilities or service providers operating in the D.C. metropolitan area, with two located in D.C. One of the D.C. facilities is Ingleside at Rock Creek, located in Northwest D.C., which is a residential facility. The other is Options for Senior America, a company that provides in-home care services for seniors, including seniors living in D.C.

A SAGE list of the D.C.-area SAGECare credentialed facilities shows that three are in Rockville, Md.; two are in Gaithersburg, Md.; and one each are in Bethesda, Md.; Arlington, Va.; and Alexandria, Va. The list shows that one of them that provides services to elders in the D.C. area is based in North Carolina.

SAGE has a separate list of the 15 elder care residential facilities in the U.S. created specifically to serve LGBTQ residents. 

None are in D.C., Maryland, or Virginia. However, SAGE says it has been working in cooperation with Mary’s House for Older Adults, a D.C.-based LGBTQ organization that advocates for LGBTQ seniors and is in the process of opening LGBTQ elder residential facilities in D.C. and others in the surrounding suburbs.

Mary’s House founder and CEO Dr. Imani Woody couldn’t immediately be reached to determine when the organization expects to open its first residential facility. 

While a residential LGBTQ elder facility has yet to open in the D.C. area, activists note that in addition to Mary’s House, services and amenities for LGBTQ elders in the area are currently being provided by the D.C. Center for the LGBT Community and Whitman-Walker Health, the LGBTQ supportive health center, which also has a legal services branch.

Adams of SAGE said the Los Angeles LGBTQ Center opened the nation’s first LGBTQ elder residential facility over eight years ago called Triangle Square. He said the L.A. Center opened a second LGBTQ elder residential facility a short time later. And this week, the L.A. Center announced it has opened a third LGBTQ elder residential facility in Hollywood that is part of a larger “intergenerational campus” that will bring together LGBTQ seniors and LGBTQ youth. 

SAGE, meanwhile, operates two LGBTQ elder long-term care residential facilities in New York City, one in Brooklyn called the Stonewall House and one in the Bronx called Pride House. 

The other U.S. cities with LGBTQ elder residential facilities include: Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Chicago, Cleveland, San Francisco (which has two such facilities), San Diego, Houston, Fort Lauderdale, and Islip, N.Y.

Adams said the LGBTQ elder residential facilities range in size, with the largest – New York’s Stonewall House – having 143 apartments that can accommodate 200 residents. He said others vary from 40 or 50 residential units to 120.

Advocates for LGBTQ elders point to what they consider another important breakthrough for LGBTQ elders this year in the release of a joint SAGE-Human Rights Campaign Long-Term Care Equality Index report for 2021. Adams said the report is the first of what could become an annual report and rating and scorecard for long-term care elder residential facilities and other elder facilities. 

The 2021 report includes a self-reporting assessment of elder care facilities that the facilities themselves completed through a questionnaire in which many disclosed they have LGBTQ nondiscrimination policies for elders around admission to the facility and for practices by staff for those residing in their facilities.

The report includes a chart showing that 158 elder care facilities in 31 states responded positively to the outreach to them by organizers of the Long-Term Care Equality Index.

“We are thrilled to be working with SAGE and to be working with the Human Rights Campaign who are developing the Long-Term Care Equality Index,” said Nii-Quartelai Quartey, who serves as senior adviser and LGBTQ liaison for the American Association of Retired Persons or AARP.

“There is a great deal of work that we’re doing in the area of LGBTQ older adults nationwide,” Quartey told the Blade. “And AARP has been engaged with the LGBTQ community nationwide for many years now,” he said.

“In recent years, we’ve turned up the volume in working more closely with organizations like SAGE and Lambda Legal and the Victory Fund Institute, the Center for Black Equity, the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, and the Hispanic Federation.”

According to Quartey, a recent AARP study of LGBTQ elders called Maintaining Dignity shows that longstanding concerns of discrimination remain despite the many advances in support for LGBTQ seniors in recent years.

He said a survey that was part of the study found that 67 percent of the LGBTQ elders who responded, “were concerned about neglect in a long-term care setting.” Over 60 percent feared verbal or physical harassment in a long-term care setting and over half “felt forced to hide or deny their identity” as an LGBTQ person, Quartey said.

Another recent survey of LGBTQ elders conducted by SAGE asking them how they feel about the use of the word “queer” in descriptions of LGBTQ people yielded findings that came as a surprise to some, according to Adams. A large majority of those surveyed from across the country said they are “comfortable at this point using that word and reclaiming that word, which is different from what we had heard historically,” Adams said.

He said in response to those findings SAGE will now as an organization gradually shift to using the term LGBTQ instead of its past practice of using LGBT.

Although Congress has yet to pass the Equality Act, last year under the Trump Administration, Congress acted in a rare bipartisan way to approve the required five-year reauthorization of the U.S. Older Americans Act with new language supportive of LGBTQ older adults. President Trump signed the legislation.

The language includes a mandate for outreach to and reporting about services provided to LGBTQ older adults in federally funded programs. It also opens the way for LGBTQ older adults to be designated in a category of “greatest social need.” Under that category, older adults receive a higher priority in the allocation of resources by the federal government.

“We’ve come a long way, but we still have a way to go to get over the finish line,” said the AARP’s Quartey. “And aside from passing legislation federally and on the state and local level, we absolutely need to continue the hard work of changing hearts and minds,” he said.

Longtime gay activist and writer Brian McNaught, whose latest book, “On Being Gay and Gray – Our Stories, Gifts, and the Meaning of Our Lives,” was just released, says his own very informal survey of LGBTQ elders found there is a need for intimacy that may be too controversial for the establishment LGBTQ elder groups.

“I’m a SAGE volunteer and the 81-year-old man with whom I was working after his husband of 47 years died, said after his grieving process, ‘I want to be hugged and kissed. Does that make me a bad person?’”

McNaught told the Blade he assured the man those feelings do not make him a bad person. McNaught said the man’s comment prompted him to conduct further research, in which he found that some gay male elders in the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., area who often need assisted living support would like to patronize gay bathhouses or seek the services of an escort agency. He said he determined that any LGBTQ elder group providing such services would trigger “a huge uproar of protests” and most likely a loss of funding.

“We don’t want to talk about sexuality and aging,” McNaught said.

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