Monthly Archives: August 2013

Same-Sex Military Couples Gain Benefits

MilitaryKissAnd another one falls!

A California judge has ruled that the portion of the U.S. Code governing veterans benefits is unconstitutional and unenforceable in its definition of marriage, which excludes same-sex couples.

The ruling will enable same-sex military couples to access benefits available to other married couples.

The article is available at

Advocate Covers Old Queers!

GeorgeTakeiThis week the Advocate has — count ’em! — THREE articles on old LGBT people!

“Prime Timers: A New Age for Activism” profiles 25 LGBT people aged 65 and older, including large photos of each.  The list is heavy on actors and authors, most of whom have been out as LGBT issues for decades, but also contains some long-time activists and a few who became out and/or active only after passing what’s thought of in the U.S. as “retirement age.”

“9 Tales of Young Love and Old Memories” interviews nine residents of Triangle Square, an LGBT-focused housing project in Los Angeles operated by Gay and Lesbian Elder Housing, all of whom discuss their “first love.”  Some first loves were fleeting, but others lasted decades.

In the hard news category is “HHS Offers Benefits, Joint Placement to Married LGBT Seniors on Medicare.”  This article reports on a new Department of Health and Human Services ruling that legally married LGBT elders on Medicare will be eligible for equal benefits and joint placement in nursing homes around the country, regardless of whether or not they are currently living in a state that recognizes their marriage.

Friendship and Workplace Discrimination

OLD-HANDS-001Yesterday we posted reasons why passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, ENDA — which would make it illegal to discrimination against LGBT in employment — is particularly important to LGBT older workers.

A completely unrelated article on friendship and older LGBT people inadvertently touched on the same topic from a different angle.  Asked “What has changed in your work with regard to how people understand the role of friends for LGBT older people?”, Jesus Ramirez-Valles, director of Community Health Sciences at the University of Illinois-Chicago School of Public Health, answered:

One aspect that has changed is that friendships have increased in the workplace, since we are more open there and can create those friendships.

You can read the whole article, “Friendship a Pillar of Survival for LGBT Elders,” at

Why ENDA is Important to LGBT Elders

ENDASummerFinal-228x300In July the Employment Non-Discrimination Act — ENDA — which would outlaw employment discrimination against LGBT workers — finally made it past the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

The Center for American Progress’s Andrew Cray published a blog post focusing on three reasons why ENDA is particularly important for older LGBT Americans.  One reason is that older LGBT Americans face double discrimination in the workplace, being subject to both age and anti-LGBT discrimination.  Another reason is that employment discrimination adds up over the lifespan, with on-the-job discrimination multiplying into significant later-life income disparities.

These two reasons are fairly self-evident.  The third, however, surprised me:

Data on LGBT workers overall show that while only 5 percent of LGBT employees ages 18 to 24 are open about their LGBT identity at work, more than 20 percent in the older age cohorts are out.

Since data also shows that out LGBT employees experience more discrimination than non-out employees, “older LGBT workers are more likely to face discriminatory treatment.”  And while that fact may make it seem like older LGBT workers should be closeted at work, Cray points out the negative ramifications of that choice:

And for those who are not able to be open in the workplace, a lack of trust and feelings of isolation continue to take a toll on comfort and productivity on the job and can even result in negative health outcomes.  Passing ENDA would provide relief for older LGBT workers, whether or not they decide to come out at work.

The complete blog post is available at

New Report on Trans Veterans

TAVA logoDid you know that transgender people are twice as likely to be veterans as non-trans people?

A new report, based on the 2011 National Transgender Discrimination Survey, discusses the findings of 1,261 people who reported being both transgender or gender non-conforming and having served in the military at some point.  This was 20% of the overall survey respondents, a figure that is twice the 10% military service rate of the overall U.S. population.

The findings include:

  • Trans veterans were more likely than non-veterans to have lost a job (36%), not been hired (53%), and have experienced on-the-job harassment (54%), physical violence (9%) and sexual assault (8%) because of their gender identity or history.
  • Trans veterans were more likely than non-veteran trans people to have been evicted from their home or apartment due to bias (14%) and to have experienced homelessness (18%).
  • Nine percent of those who had served had been discharged because of being transgender or gender nonconforming.

The report, “Still Serving in Silence: Transgender Service Members in the National Transgender Discrimination Survey,” is available free at