U.S. Congressmen Patrick E. Murphy and Ted Deutch have teamed up to introduce a bill recognizing a pioneering lesbian couple while establishing safeguards for elderly LGBT Americans.
Murphy and Deutch, South Florida Democrats, joined with Oregon Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici to sponsor the Ruthie and Connie LGBT Elder Americans Act. The bill, introduced Oct. 21, intends to improve the Older Americans Act (OAA) by better serving LGBT seniors who studies show face higher rates of poverty, pronounced social isolation and restricted health care access due to past discrimination and barriers in the aging system.
“I am humbled to introduce this legislation in honor of two of my constituents, Ruthie Berman and Connie Kurtz, who have been true champions for LGBT equality,” Murphy said in a news release.
Berman and Kurtz began their love affair as neighbors in Brooklyn, N.Y. They had children with their husbands, divorced them and fell in love with each other. Berman and Kurtz made headlines when they successfully sued the New York City Board of Education for domestic partner benefits for city employees. The women have since moved to Palm Beach County to live out their golden years in the Florida sunshine.
“I first met Ruthie and Connie while serving in the Florida State Senate, and I was immediately inspired by their commitment to each other and to equality for all LGBT Americans,” Deutch stated.
The bill has been endorsed by the Services & Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Elders, better known as SAGE.
“LGBT older adults face profound challenges that require unique services and supports, and this bill is a major step forward for elders in every part of the country. While it’s no secret that it’s difficult to move legislation through Congress in this polarized environment, the proposed act should be common sense for anybody interested in fairness for LGBT people,” said Michael Adams, SAGE Chief Executive Officer, in a news release.
Meanwhile, Murphy, 32, who represents Florida’s 18th congressional district in Washington, D.C., is scheduled to address the Florida Democratic Party’s State Convention Saturday evening at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando. Murphy along with U.S. Congressman Alan Grayson and former U.S. foreign service officer Pam Keith are vying for Florida’s open U.S. Senate seat, in what FDP spokesman Max Steele describes as one of the nation’s “marquee races.” The seat is being vacated by Republican Marco Rubio, who is campaigning for U.S. President.