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13 posts from June 2013

June 27, 2013

Addressing the Needs of LGBT Hispanic Older Adults in the U.S

In reconition of National HIV Testing Day and the efforts of the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA) to raise awareness of this event, SAGE is reposting this Diverse Elders Coalition blog post from NHCOA's President and CEO, Dr. Yanira Cruz. At 2:00 PM EST on June 27, 2013, NHCOA will be hosting their first Twitter chat on HIV testing, awareness and the Hispanic older adult community. Join them by following @NHCOA and use #NHTDiverse to ask/answer questions.

With the rapid growth of our diverse population, our country is becoming more beautiful than ever. But unfortunately, there are still some groups that are not well understood by the nation’s service providers, or by local, state and federal governments. One of those groups is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) older adults. And in order to better understand the reality of this diverse community, the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA) conducted an analysis through a literature review, focus groups (one was held at The SAGE Center; SAGE is fellow member organization of the Diverse Elders Coalition) and in-depth interviews with LGBT Hispanic older adults, including the service providers who work with them.

We have found that Hispanic LGBT older adults face challenges in the areas of economic security and health, often times because of the lack of research on the needs and perspectives of this population. This can be reversed if there is more knowledge on the specific health issues impacting Hispanic LGBT older adults and if policies are tailored to help Hispanic LGBT older adults achieve economic security. For example, policy makers can repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to allow Social Security to provide full spousal, survivor, and funeral benefits to married same-sex couples.


Continue reading "Addressing the Needs of LGBT Hispanic Older Adults in the U.S" »

June 26, 2013

SAGE Celebrates Supreme Court Decision to Overturn DOMA

2873_001Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) congratulates Edie Windsor and joins her in celebrating the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), paving the way for the federal government to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples. Today, the Supreme Court affirmed that loving and committed couples of all ages who marry deserve equal legal respect and treatment.

“This is a joyous moment in our country’s history, thanks in large part to Edie Windsor, who fought many hard-won battles along the way to this victory,” said Michael Adams, Executive Director of SAGE. “Older lesbian and gay couples were especially hard hit by DOMA, and their health, well-being and quality of life will now be vastly improved. Congratulations to Edie, a longtime SAGE hero, on breaking down another barrier to full equality for LGBT elders!”

Today’s ruling is a tremendous victory that means that thousands of older lesbian and gay couples will be able to better protect their families because they will finally have equal access to federal benefits, programs and protections that provide safety and support for older Americans.

Windsor’s case highlighted the real harms that DOMA causes legally married older same-sex couples. LGBT elders are less financially secure and in poorer health than American elders as a whole. Many LGBT elders, like their heterosexual peers, rely on federally provided benefits, programs and protections to help ease their financial burdens. Many of these federal benefits, from Social Security to Medicare, are founded on the presumption of marriage, yet DOMA denied access to these benefits even to legally married same-sex couples.

In another victory for marriage equality, the Supreme Court also ruled today in Hollingsworth v. Perry that the proponents of Proposition 8 do not possess legal standing to appeal the lower court rulings that invalidated Prop. 8.  The decision makes permanent the landmark Federal District Court ruling that found Prop. 8 unconstitutional, and means the swift restoration of marriage equality in California. Now, same-sex couples can legally marry in 13 states and the District of Columbia.

With these decisions adding to the momentum for marriage, SAGE will continue to stand with the majority of Americans who support marriage equality, looking toward the day when DOMA is overturned completely, same-sex couples of all ages can marry in any state, and LGBT elders have access to the same protection and support as all older Americans.

To learn more about the impact of marriage equality on LGBT older adults, see SAGE’s Marriage Equality issue page. For stories of older LGBT couples, visit SAGE Story.

June 25, 2013

A Social Security Win for Transgender People

Today’s post is from Aaron Tax, Director of Federal Government Relations, on exciting news from the Social Security Administration.

TransagingreportIn 2011 SAGE and the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) launched a historic Transgender Aging Advocacy Initiative to outline the many policy and practice barriers facing transgender and gender non-conforming older adults, as well as some key solutions for addressing these barriers.  One of our top policy priorities was asking the Social Security Administration (SSA) to eliminate gender as a data field in all of its automated verification programs, and to update policies to permit an individual to change the gender designation in her or his SSA record based on a letter from a physician stating that she or he has had appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition.

Pursuant to that goal, in January of this year, the Alliance for Retired Americans and the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare worked alongside SAGE to partner with more than two dozen aging organizations from the Leadership Council of Aging organizations, in a letter to the SSA Commissioner advocating for these changes.   

And earlier this month, after years of advocacy spearheaded by NCTE, SSA announced groundbreaking advances in how transgender individuals, including transgender older adults, will be able to able to change their gender with the SSA, consistent with the requests outlined above.

As NCTE outlines:

Social Security will accept any of the following forms of evidence for a gender marker change:

  • A U.S. passport showing the correct gender,
  • A birth certificate showing the correct gender,
  • A court order recognizing the correct gender, or
  • A signed letter from a [provider] confirming that you have had appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition

NCTE provides detailed advice on its website, addressing a number of questions, including the impact of this change on Social Security benefits, health benefits, and marriage-related benefits.

For additional information, visit transequality.org and the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging.

June 24, 2013

LGBT Older Adults & Identity Theft


For a number of reasons, older adults are more vulnerable to identity theft than the general population. They are particularly vulnerable to what are termed “community scammers.”  These individuals may share a common language, background or heritage; they might pose as helpful; but they may turn these traditional indicators of trust on their head to take advantage of their elders. Here at SAGE, we deal with the outcome of people who are taken advantage of by people who recognize their fear, social isolation and vulnerability. LGBT older adults in particular are extremely vulnerable to identity theft and we’re sharing stories to make people aware of this situation. If you, or someone you care about, has suffered from fraud, tell us your story at SAGE Story.

Mike*, a SAGE client, is a 70-year-old gay male who is single, suffers from depression and generally likes to stay in or near his home in NYC. He used to eat regularly at a diner and started to become friendly with Steve*, an assistant manager there. Their friendship developed and Steve visited Mike’s apartment on several occasions.  Steve asked Mike to go shopping with him in order to establish his credit rating and asked Mike to use his credit card—this may not make sense, but that was the premise he cooked up for his scam. Steve bought some clothes, returned them for a credit on Mike’s credit card and gave Mike an IOU.

About a month later Mike gets word from several credit card companies and banks that accounts have been opened in his name and charges incurred of about $15,000+.  Mike came to SAGE for help and we reported the matter to the police—who responded promptly and effectively.

Eventually, Steve was found out because he used Mike’s name on the credit card, but his own address. This was not the first fraud Steve had committed. In fact, he was scheduled to be arraigned a few weeks ago and Mike is currently distraught, but receiving help. 

Another example is of an immobile client who lived in a second floor walk-up—he couldn’t get out of bed and he couldn’t go to store. This man had lost his partner, who had cared for him, but didn’t want to leave their apartment and the memories they shared and more importantly, he was afraid of how he’d be received in a long-term care setting. Instead, he paid people in his building to do errands for him, but not in cash. He gave people his debit card and PIN and they took advantage of his situation. His fear of moving and seeking the proper assistance he needed made his bad situation even worse. Ultimately, SAGE got involved and coordinated formal in-home services and a SAGE Friendly Visitor. In short, the fact that the man was quasi-out led to his fear of moving into an unwelcoming environment, and made him vulnerable to fraud.

The Federal Trade Commission, which recently held a day-long seminar and Senior Identity Theft, provides numerous resources to combat financial scams, identity theft, and other fraudulent scheme –providing minute-long audio tips, scam alerts, and tools for victims of identity theft and other scams.  In addition, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau provides numerous tips and resources to help older adults protect themselves from financial abuse, including information on how to prevent people from taking your savings or your home, understanding your financial options when your spouse dies, and where you can turn for information.

*The names in this post have been changed.

June 20, 2013

Act Now to Help Prevent LGBT Older Adults From Aging Back Into the Closet

This post was originally featured on The Huffington Post. Read the original post here.

Claire Pomeroy, M.D., M.B.A., is President of the Lasker Foundation. This post details the importance of helping LGBT older adults age with the dignity and respect they deserve.

DSCF2614Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender older adults are pioneers who bravely pushed open the doors to coming out. It is unconscionable that many of these leaders of social justice are forced to retreat into the closet as they age. The troubling reality is that the U.S. lacks a complete understanding of the LGBT senior community and is particularly unprepared for the needs of LGBT older adults at the intersection of multiple disadvantaged populations, such as LGBT seniors who are people of color, disabled, living with HIV/AIDS, undocumented immigrants or socioeconomically marginalized.

Many LGBT seniors fear that the health-care system is judgmental and have experienced discriminatory care or lack access to culturally competent aging services. To address this crisis, the U.S. must adopt a new perspective that emphasizes health, rather than just health care. All sectors of society must come together with a renewed sense of social responsibility that focuses on social determinants of health -- a holistic view of everyday factors that impact the health, economic and social well-being of LGBT seniors.

Continue reading "Act Now to Help Prevent LGBT Older Adults From Aging Back Into the Closet" »

June 19, 2013

La Voz Latina de SAGE: PRIDE

¡Vea el nuevo episodio de "La Voz Latina de SAGE" y aprenda sobre Pride (orgullo LGBT)!

June 16, 2013

Celebrating Fatherhood and Family

Wayne Steinman and Sal Iacullo have been together for nearly 41 years and were the first gay couple in New York State to legally adopt a child. This Father’s Day, we honor them, and fathers everywhere, by telling their SAGE Story.

First Father's Day
Sal, Hope and Wayne Celebrate their 1st Father's Day

We became dads when our daughter, Hope, was placed in our arms in August 19, 1987 in New York City and she was four months old at the time. Sal was actually the lead parent in the adoption―he was the first openly gay male to experience single-parent adoption. However, we were both Hope’s dads. We had legal papers, the court made sure from the get-go that we had both guardianship papers and wills so that if anything happened to Sal, Hope would become my child. We did our second parent adoption in 1994 or ’95, to make it official, but quite honestly, I never felt any different. It was love at first sight and we knew she was our daughter. Papers didn't matter.


WandS July 2011 b
Sal and Wayne Celebrate
We were together for nearly 41 years and it was the same thing! We didn't have any papers in the beginning either, but we knew our love was real. When we could get legal documents, we did, in order to protect ourselves and our daughter. In 1994, we applied for a Domestic Partnership in New York. We had a Civil Union ceremony in Vermont on October 7, 2000 with Hope as our witness. When same-sex marriage became legal in Canada, we went across the border and were legally married in Toronto on August 27, 2003―our 10 year anniversary is coming up!


We celebrate Father's Day and Mother’s Day. It's nice to be able to share cards and special moments together. We note how much we accomplish as dads. Sal's dad is still alive and we have supportive families surrounding us with birthdays and other things at this time of year, so it's just a big celebration. We also all plan a trip to Provincetown for Family Week in August, which is a nice way to stay in touch and celebrate our family within the LGBT community.

Hope is now 26 and she is a strong, independent, intelligent woman―we couldn't have asked for a better daughter. When she was placed with us 26 years ago there were all sorts of issues―health and otherwise― but we gave her all of our love and support. By fourth grade, she was in the gifted program. She got into Staten Island Tech, a top school and graduated from Wesleyan University. She actually came out in high school, so we have a daughter-in-law as part of the family now too! Hope is now in L.A. and we wish she lived closer, but we're proud of her and ourselves as parents. Happy Father's Day to all!

June 14, 2013

SAGE and Freedom to Marry Host Marriage Equality Event

Today, Aaron Tax, SAGE’s Director of Federal Government Relations, tells us about an event on marriage equality held earlier this week.

SAGE, like many others in the LGBT field, is anxiously awaiting a decision by the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which is expected by the end of the month. In anticipation of the Supreme Court’s decision, on June 10, SAGE and Freedom to Marry organized an event at the National Press Club that provided the aging network the opportunity to speak out against DOMA and express its support for marriage equality.  The panel, moderated by political strategist Hilary Rosen, and featuring aging leaders, policy experts, and a local LGBT older adult, discussed the harms DOMA causes to older same-sex couples. If you’re interested in what the panel talked about, visit SAGE’s marriage equality page, where many of the points brought up during this discussion are found.

At the event, Freedom to Marry also debuted a new, touching video about the 54-year relationship between Bill Campbell and John Hilton. While they were registered as domestic partners in New York, the marriage equality did not come to them soon enough—Bill passed away before it became it a reality in New York state.

We are thankful to the following individuals and organizations for participating in the event: Sarah L. Byrne, senior legislative representative, Alliance for Retired Americans; Paul Nathanson, executive director, National Senior Citizens Law Center; Web Phillips, senior legislative representative, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare; Stacy Sanders, federal policy director, Medicare Rights Center; Thomas Sciacca, NY attorney with expertise in estate and disability planning; and Imani Woody, co-chair of SAGE Metro DC and director and founder of Mary’s House for Older Adults.

For more marriage stories from older LGBT couples, visit SAGE Story.

June 13, 2013

Men's Health Week

SAGE Center Participants Michael and Gregory

Did you know that it’s Men’s Health Week?

The week before Father’s Day is generally given over to thoughts on men’s health, but we believe that health awareness is important all the time! In particular, gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men (MSM) are especially vulnerable to HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, HPV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Most recently, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has created a new ad campaign aimed at Latino LGBT people entitled “Reasons/Razones” to increase HIV testing.

If you haven’t seen a doctor in a while, or haven’t been tested for sexually transmitted diseases, SAGE urges you to do so. If you’re interested in how HIV/AIDS affect LGBT older adults, check out our fact sheet. In addition to our HIV Men’s Support Groups, we also offer a monthly “Ask the Docs” program and have visiting nurse services at The SAGE Center and our SAGE Harlem office. Check out the SAGE Calendar for these and more health events in the future! Stay healthy and stay safe!

June 11, 2013

SAGE Pride Across the Country!

SAGE is celebrating Pride all month throughout New York City, but we can't forget our SAGENet affiliates all around the country! Here are some highlights from our affiliates' Pride events this month.

PortlandSAGE Metro Portland will be celebrating Pride this weekend! They will be featuring two members who are celebrating 60+ years together and who are instrumental in the community. In partnership with the Portland Primetimers and LOCA (Lesbians of a Certain Age), they will host the Senior Tent at Pride Festival. Stop by the tent to learn about resources for LGBT older adults and each of the partnering programs. They will also have a place for you to sit and take a rest from the festival. On Sunday June 16, SAGE Metro Portland will be marching in the parade and invite all LGBT older adults and allies to join us.

SAGE Philadelphia just celebrated their Pride this past weekend! SAGE Philadelphia provided a presentation on LGBT older adult housing for a local Black Pride organization and distributed brochures for the John C. Anderson Apartments during the Pride parade.

SAGE Utah Pride Zone

Out in Utah, Pride festivities happened a few weeks ago with a huge parade and SAGE Utah had a large presence. SAGE Utah also set up a SAGE Zone for folks to rest, relax and “embrace the SAGE within.”

SAGE Center on Halsted constituents and individuals with disabilities are invited to view Chicago's June 30 Pride parade at the John Baran Senior Center at the Center on Halsted. This annual event is extremely popular with SAGE folks who might not be able to enjoy the parade otherwise.

SAGE Tulsa's Toby Jenkins in front of new Pride Exhibit
SAGE Tulsa also celebrated Pride earlier in the month! The Oklahoma Equality Center hosted a SAGE Tulsa Zone during their Pride Festival. Spectators got prime seating with a view of the parade from the Oklahoma Equality Center.


Want to learn more about our SAGENet affiliates and what they're doing for Pride? Visit our SAGENet page.