Senior advocacy groups call for rights, protections for LGBT seniors

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State and federal lawmakers should find a way to legally recognize same-sex elderly couples to extend social supports, financial security and healthcare benefits to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender seniors, a new report contends.

The group Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Elders (SAGE) presented its report Wednesday at the 2010 Annual Aging in America conference in Chicago. It calls for changes in Medicaid and Social Security policy to extend certain benefits, including Social Security survivor benefits and medical decision-making rights, to same-sex elderly couples. It also suggests extending certain Medicaid exemptions to partners of homosexuals who require long-term care, in order to prevent the healthy partner from living in poverty.

A number of other major senior advocacy groups, including AARP, the National Senior Citizens Law Center, and the American Society on Aging, have endorsed or contributed to the report.  More information about the report, “Improving the Lives of LGBT Older Adults,” can be found online at www.sageusa.org.