Showing posts with label Aging. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Aging. Show all posts

December 22, 2017

Report Highlights Dangers of Religious Exemption Laws for LGBT Elders




 Everybody Ages and some days are longer for some than for others


{SAGE}



[NEW YORK, NY] The Movement Advancement Project (MAP), the Public Rights/Private Conscience Project (PRPCP) at Columbia Law School, and SAGE, the nation’s largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBT elders, released a new report, Dignity Denied: Religious Exemptions and LGBT Elder ServicesTo download the report, visit http://www.lgbtmap.org/dignity-denied-lgbt-older-adults.
The report highlights the unique ways in which lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) elders are harmed by a growing number of laws and policies aimed at exempting religious organizations and individuals from following nondiscrimination and civil rights laws and policies.
By 2050, the number of people older than 65 will double to 83.7 million, and there are currently more than 2.7 million LGBT adults who are 50 years or older living across the country. LGBT elders face unique challenges to successful aging stemming from current and past structural and legal discrimination because of their sexual orientation, their gender identity, their age, and other factors like race. These risk factors are exacerbated by recent efforts at the local, state, and federal levels to allow those with religious or moral objections to be exempt from nondiscrimination laws, leaving LGBT older adults vulnerable to increased risk for discrimination and mistreatment.
According to the report released by MAP, PRPCP at Columbia Law School, and SAGE, religiously affiliated organizations provide a majority of the services LGBT elders rely on for their most basic needs. LGBT older adults, like many older Americans in the United States, access a network of service providers for health care, community programming and congregate meals, food and income assistance, and housing, ranging from independent living to skilled in-home nursing. Approximately 85% of nonprofit continuing-care retirement communities are affiliated with a religion. Religiously affiliated facilities also provide the greatest number of affordable housing units that serve low-income seniors. Finally, 14% of hospitals in the United States are religiously affiliated, accounting for 17% of all the country’s hospital beds.
While many of these facilities provide quality care for millions of older adults, there exists a coordinated nationwide effort to pass religious exemption laws and policies, and file lawsuits that would allow individuals, businesses, and even government contractors and grantees to use religion as a basis for discriminating against a range of communities, including LGBT elders.
Dignity Denied: Religious Exemptions and LGBT Elder Services outlines myriad federal and state efforts to allow individuals, businesses, and organizations to opt out of following nondiscrimination laws as long as they cite a religious objection. While most providers will do the right thing when it comes to serving their clients, some will only do so when required by law. The report concludes that because so many service providers are religiously affiliated, these laws pose a considerable threat to the health and well-being of LGBT older adults.
In conjunction with the release of the report, a panel discussion was held on Friday, December 15, at Union Theological Seminary at Columbia University featuring speakers from Center for Faith and Community Partnerships, The LGBT & HIV Project, American Civil Liberties Union, The Movement Advancement Project, The New Jewish Home, New York City Commission on Human Rights, Public Rights/Private Conscience Project, Columbia Law School, the Union Theological Seminary, and SAGE.
“This report and the amicus brief SAGE filed in the Masterpiece Cake case clearly demonstrate that personal religious beliefs should never be a license to discriminate against LGBT people or anybody else,” said Michael Adams, CEO of SAGE. “That’s why we are bringing together aging experts, religious leaders, and our elders to expose the dangers that so-called religious exemptions pose for LGBT elders who need care and services. We must not allow the door of a nursing home or other critical care provider to slam in LGBT elders’ faces just because of who they are or who they love.”
“This important report reveals the many ways in which the privatization of elder services, largely to conservative religiously affiliated providers, leaves LGBT older adults no choice but to obtain care in facilities that do not welcome them,” said Katherine Franke, Sulzbacher Professor of Law, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and Faculty Director of PRPCP at Columbia University. “The many LGBT elders who are adherents of faith-based traditions themselves suffer a special indignity when they are forced to seek care in settings that deny the dignity of both their LGBT identity and their faith-based beliefs.”
“LGBT older adults already are more likely to be isolated and vulnerable. It is unconscionable that state and federal governments are working to allow providers to deny critical health care services and vital social supports to LGBT older adults simply because of who they are,” said Ineke Mushovic, executive director of the Movement Advancement Project. “Imagine how much harder it would be to reach out for help if you knew the organizations that were supposed to help you could legally reject you, and the government would back them up.”
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The Movement Advancement Project (MAP) is an independent think tank that provides rigorous research, insight, and analysis that help speed equality for LGBT people. MAP works collaboratively with LGBT organizations, advocates and funders, providing information, analysis and resources that help coordinate and strengthen efforts for maximum impact. MAP’s policy research informs the public and policymakers about the legal and policy needs of LGBT people and their families.  Learn more at www.lgbtmap.org.
PRPCP at Columbia Law School’s mission is to bring legal academic expertise to bear on the multiple contexts in which religious liberty rights conflict with or undermine other fundamental rights to equality and liberty. We undertake approaches to the developing law of religion that both respects the importance of religious liberty and recognizes the ways in which too broad an accommodation of these rights threatens Establishment Clause violations and can unsettle a proper balance with other competing fundamental rights. Our work takes the form of legal research and scholarship, public policy interventions, advocacy support, and academic and media publications.
SAGE is the country's largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) older adults. Founded in 1978 and headquartered in New York City, SAGE is a national organization that offers supportive services and consumer resources to LGBT older adults and their caregivers, advocates for public policy changes that address the needs of LGBT older people, provides education and technical assistance for aging providers and LGBT organizations through its National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, and cultural competence training through SAGECare. Headquartered in New York City, with staff across the country, SAGE also coordinates a growing network of affiliates in the United States. Learn more at sageusa.org.

April 26, 2016

How Gracefully Can a Gay Man Age?



      
man washing

                                                                         
  
Good God, the mirror's a challenge. Gravity's relentless tugging and all those summer tans are conspiring with time. They dash in an unholy, unruly, triathlon of, well, let’s call it maturing. It’s not as if I wasn't warned. Beauty is only skin deep, and stay out of the sun. But, I must admit, gravity kind of surprised me. Unless a cliff was involved, I always thought it such a benign and helpful force. Gravity keeps everything in place and the heavenly celestial bodies orbiting as they should. But that sneak, gravity, eventually pulls your face, your butt, and everything else on your body in the absolutely wrong direction.

There’s no denying that sometimes it's hard to face your maturing face. I remember Dad looking at his reflection once and exclaiming, "Hell's bells, who is that old man?" I got it, but at the time I could only sympathize with his pain. Now I feel it too. The quest for graceful aging — and a salient belief in the truth of inner beauty — is officially urgent. 

So take a deep breath, ignore most of the new music, most of the fashion, and all the teenage supermodels. Pay no attention to the economic demographers that conspire to make you last year's iPhone before it's even released. Remind yourself that getting old is an honor and a privilege. Also know that’s BS, but it’s the kind of BS you must work with. There are two options: Get older or don’t. 

I think the trick is to not embrace the “aging gracefully” thing completely, and certainly not all at once. It’s OK to kick and scream and dig in your heels a little, as long as it doesn’t involve super skinny jeans on a 60-year-old body. But do try to take baby steps toward enlightenment. Just take a lot of them, and at a quick pace. One must keep up with Old Man Time's long, loping strides to the finish line.

So why are our ambition to age gracefully and the actual reality of getting older in a demolition derby? It's the fault of a market-driven youth culture, sort of. But, Grasshopper, look within. Practice that inner, beautiful wisdom you so easily preached when you were young and beautiful. And before casting rainbow-hued stones through the iridescent glass houses of the total culture, look at the particulars. Consider what lurks in the shadow of the rainbow flag.

The LGBT community's grown tremendously in a relatively short time. We've grown from closeted toddlers to rowdy teenagers to more thoughtful, AIDS-scarred adults. But the divisions in our community glare. Bright as a supernova or subtle as the cranky shopper you beat to the checkout, we glare. One only needs to look in the mirror to see the real culprit.

Our community is hilariously obsessed with physicality. Too often, only chiseled abs and chins need apply. A cold chill passes over me every time I see those sculpted couples in a print ad for gay cruises. Personally, I can imagine wearing a burka for the duration at sea. I suppose a full body cast could work too, and sympathy would be an effective icebreaker. It’s all so crazy, because I know we’re better than the form, reflected by light, off our skin. But I also know that very few people, including myself, don’t judge. Our first impression of others is their appearance, and as hard as I try, I still evaluate. We all do this, straight or gay, but I think gay people do it more and do it longer.

Here’s another theory. I think straight people are off the hook, once they have kids. Mom just went through a physical ordeal that’s unbelievable. Conveying the nutrients and the astoundingly mysterious life forces of gestation, then stretched beyond belief, and then ultimately giving birth, which is such a pleasant euphemism for a really horrifying process. I know pediatricians and neonatal medical folk who secretly believe the human reproductive system as preposterous. Marsupials figured this one out a million years ago. But the point is, Mom is allowed not to wear a bikini for a while.

Meanwhile, Dad’s done his thing. He goes to work and comes home and goes to work helping raise a family. He has to, because two incomes are the root for survival in America. Suddenly, there’s just no more gym time, and the little time left is dedicated to a well-deserved time-out with the recliner.

Are these huge, sweeping generalizations? Hell, yeah! And wait, there’s more!

Gay folks, especially men, generally don’t have these societal fallback positions. We’re expected to die at the pec fly machine, working in that third set of 10 reps. And if we have to leave a button on our 501s unbuttoned, it can’t be the top button. We can only let people speculate if there’s not enough room for the bottom buttons.

The reality is the fine line between healthy fetishes and unattainable or unrealistic stereotypes. Not everyone can be a muscle-bound biker or a wasp-waisted lipstick lesbian. And let's not even get into ageism in the gay community. Ahem ...  note this column, the voice from the old gay elephant graveyard. But the point is, these aspirations and fetishes have to lose some grip as we grow older unless we want to be that mad, bitter queen in the skinny jeans, drinking alone.

Now, how do we do these things? How do we age gracefully? Who are our role models to guide us through the golden years? Why. it’s us, by golly! It’s up to you and me, and I think there are many paths down the golden yellow brick road. Garden, play bridge, go to the gym and do eight reps instead of 10. It’s all good. Just don’t buy into the hype. Businesses and corporations are always going to try to sell you stuff, and most of them think a 20-year-old can sell anything.

OK, another sweeping generalization. Sorry.

A 20-year-old pitching Viagra might be kind of creepy. 

By KURT NIECE who is an artist, jeweler, and author of The Breath of Rapture and Mercury Fields. He and his partner, Gary, live with their beloved feline in the crystal valleys of Hot Springs Village, Ark.   The Advocate

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