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Democrats introduce bill to aid older LGBTQ+ Americans in rural areas

Out Reps and Ally Aid Older LGBTQ Reps. Mark Pocan Sharice Davids  Suzanne Bonamici
davids.house.gov; bonamici.house.gov; pocan.house.gov

From left: Sharice Davids, Suzanne Bonamici, and Mark Pocan

The Elder Pride Act would establish a grant program to improve services for this population.

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Two out U.S. representatives and an ally have introduced a bill aimed at improving services for older LGBTQ+ adults living in rural areas.

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Seniors who are LGBTQ+ or living with HIV and live in rural communities often face barriers to support and resources because of geography, costs, insufficient broadband infrastructure, lack of specialized providers, or stigma, notes a press release from Reps. Mark Pocan, Sharice Davids, and Suzanne Bonamici, all Democrats. Their Elder Pride Act would update the Older Americans Act and provide funding to help rural Area Agencies on Aging offer specific services for these populations.

The act would establish a grant program to fund cultural competency training for service providers; help connect these elders to providers and community organizations; expand nondiscrimination policies and community spaces for this population and members of other protected classes; provide resources on sexual health and aging, including for individuals with HIV, for senior service providers; and support other care and services.

“The ability of LGBTQI+ older Americans and seniors living with HIV to age with dignity should not depend on their zip code,” Bonamici, a straight ally who chairs the Congressional Equality Caucus’s LGBTQI+ Aging Issues Task Force, said in a press release. “The Elder Pride Act will improve the overall health and social and economic well-being of LGBTQI+ older adults and seniors living with HIV in rural areas by better equipping senior service providers with resources to address the unique needs of these communities. I’m pleased to introduce this important legislation with my colleagues and co-leaders on the Equality Caucus, Reps. Pocan and Davids.”

“Congress has a responsibility to ensure LGBTQI+ older adults and older people living with HIV in rural communities have the support they need to age with dignity,” added

Pocan, a gay man and chair of the Equality Caucus, added: “Congress has a responsibility to ensure LGBTQI+ older adults and older people living with HIV in rural communities have the support they need to age with dignity.”

“Many of our LGBTQI+ elders fought tirelessly for equality in a world that refused to accept their identity,” said Davids, a queer woman who cochairs the Equality Caucus. “While they overcame tremendous odds to give future generations the rights they deserve, our elders, particularly those in rural communities, continue to face discrimination when accessing long-term care and health care. I am proud to support the Elder Pride Act because who you are and who you love should never increase your risk for isolation, poverty, and poor health outcomes as you age.”

The legislation is endorsed by SAGE, the Equality Caucus, Human Rights Campaign, NMAC, Justice in Aging, National Center for Lesbian Rights, MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, U.S. People Living with HIV Caucus, National Coalition of STD Directors, interACT, and National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs.

“LGBTQ+ elders and older people living with HIV live in every part of this nation, including rural areas. We all deserve to be able to age in our communities with the services and supports we need to remain independent,” SAGE CEO Michael Adams said in the release. “We commend Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Mark Pocan (D-WI), and Sharice Davids (D-KS) on reintroducing the Elder Pride Act. And we honor the contributions of our many LGBTQ+ trailblazers whose tireless advocacy allowed us to reintroduce this critical bill. We look forward to working alongside Reps. Bonamici, Pocan, and Davids, and our LGBTQ+ pioneers nationwide to pass this legislation.”

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Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.
Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.