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AARP Backs Federal Efforts to Better Lives of LGBT Older Americans

AARP writes Senate to endorse Equality Act and files friend-of-the-court (amicus curiae) brief in the U.S. Supreme Court to support litigation recognizing federal employment civil rights protections for LGBT workers.

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Rainbow flags fly over Washington, DC, U Street NW in the background. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons / Ted Eytan (CC BY-SA 2.0)

AARP, continuing its long-standing anti-discrimination advocacy on behalf of older Americans, is backing Congressional and legal initiatives to better the lives of older LGBT individuals.

In one action, AARP Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy and Engagement Officer Nancy LeaMond has written members of the U.S. Senate to endorse S. 788, the Equality Act, which provides equal treatment under the law for LGBT individuals by prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Employment, housing, public accommodations, public education, federal funding, credit and the jury system would be impacted by the bill, LeaMond said.

“On this historic date, which marks fifty years of LGBT advocacy since Stonewall, AARP is pleased to support the Equality Act,” LeaMond said in a letter dated June 28.

According to AARP’s landmark 2018 national LGBT survey, “Maintaining Dignity,” 34 percent of LGBT older adults said they were concerned that they would have to hide their identity in order to have access to suitable housing as they aged. More than 75 percent said they were concerned about having adequate family or social supports to rely on as they aged.

In the other action, AARP and AARP Foundation have joined other groups in filing a friend-of-the-court (amicus curiae) brief in the U.S. Supreme Court to support litigation recognizing federal employment civil rights protections for LGBT workers. The Court will consider three related LGBT employment cases in the fall session; all three present the issue of how broadly to interpret the 1964 Civil Rights Act’s Title VII ban on employment discrimination “because of … sex.”

A key question before the High Court will be whether the term “sex” encompasses sexual orientation and gender identity.

The amicus brief argues that the Court should adopt this interpretation and, in doing so, the Court would be recognizing the protections that LGBT workers deserve.

A favorable ruling also could help assure fair treatment of LGBT individuals in non-workplace situations.

The brief states that “one in five older LGBT adults reported recent involuntary job loss due at least in part to their perceived sexual orientation and gender identity, and older LGBT workers postpone retirement at a higher rate than the general population, likely due to a lifetime of economic disadvantage.”

AARP has more than 900,000 self-identified LGBT members.

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december 2019

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