California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law on Friday legislation to ensure that LGBT older people have equal access to vital government aging services and programming such as Meals on Wheels and senior centers.
The bill, introduced by Assembly member Jacqui Irwin, amends state law implementing the federal Older Americans Act and the Older Californians Act to add LGBT elders to the list of those older people who have the greatest social needs as a result of cultural and social isolation.
"We commend Governor Brown and the state of California for taking this important step forward on behalf of LGBT older people," said SAGE CEO Michael Adams. "LGBT elders experience high rates of social isolation and poverty as well as thin support networks, and they heavily rely on home and community-based services in their later years. Just like all other older people, we must ensure they have access to welcoming services in their communities. We hope that Congress follows California's lead when it reauthorizes the Older Americans Act in 2019."
The new California law follows on the heels of similar legislation adopted in Massachusetts this July and indicates a trend of states seeking to address the unique needs of LGBT older people through policy changes such as "greatest social need" designations.