California passes new bill to support LGBTQ Seniors

From Logo by Samantha Manzella

California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a new bill into law that will support the inclusion of LGBTQ seniors in state-administered programs and services for the elderly.

AB 2719, authored by Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin and co-sponsored by SAGE and Equality California, adds sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression to the definition of elderly communities that will receive priority for resources from California’s Department of Aging. The department helps seniors across the state find employment opportunities, receive healthcare and support, and find community among other elders.

Previously, the bill passed unanimously through both chambers of California’s state legislature earlier this year.

Equality California cites estimates that about 10.9 million Californians will be over the age of 60 by 2030. Since LGBTQ people comprise at least 3.5% of general population in the U.S., some 380,000 LGBTQ seniors could be living in California by the 2030 mark.

“It’s incredibly important that we ensure LGBTQ older adults have access to the services and support they need to maintain their health and live their lives with dignity,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California, in a statement. “We’re deeply grateful to Gov. Brown for signing AB 2719 and to Assemblymember Irwin for being such a strong champion for our LGBTQ elders.”

California isn’t the only area of the country looking to ensure the wellbeing of LGBTQ seniors: Last September, SAGE, the New York Housing Authority, and HELP USA announced plans for LGBTQ-friendly senior housing in Brooklyn and the Bronx, expected to open in the fall of 2019. The two homes will be the largest queer-inclusive senior living communities of their kind in the country and could help house some of New York City’s 100,000 estimated LGBTQ elders.

Experts say fostering community among elders is especially important for aging LGBTQ people, whose quality of life is greatly improved by friendship and support.

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