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California enacts protections for LGBTI seniors in long-term care facilities

California enacts protections for LGBTI seniors in long-term care facilities

Gov. Jerry Brown

The Donald Trump administration may be taking steps that undermine protections for LGBTI seniors, but California is going in the opposite direction.

California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill last week protecting the state’s LGBTI seniors from discrimination in long-term care facilities.

Brown signed SB (Senate Bill) 219 into law on 4 October, Q Voice News reported.

Authored by state Senator Scott Wiener, an openly gay Democrat from San Francisco, SB 219 goes into effect on 1 January 2018.

Key components of the bill include requiring long-term care facilities to use the resident’s preferred name and pronoun and preventing facilities from denying admission based on anti-LGBTI attitudes of other residents.

The bill also prevents residents from being transferred or involuntarily discharged based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or HIV status.

‘Our LGBT seniors paved the way for our community, and they went to hell and back to ensure our community’s survival and growth,’ Weiner said in a statement.

‘Ensuring these seniors can age with dignity and respect is the least we can do to support them, especially as they face discrimination, unique health challenges, and frequent lack of family support.’

Weiner said the bill was needed because LGBTI seniors often end up going back in the closet when they enter long-term care facilities.

By contrast, last week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, withdraw guidelines proposed under former President Barack Obama’s administration which would have provided protections for LGBTI seniors in long-term care facilities nationwide.

One provision of those proposed guidelines guaranteed that care facilities treat same-sex spouses the same as opposite-sex spouses.

A spokesperson for CMS said the guidelines were not needed due to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling the legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.

An estimated 1.5 million LGBTI people over 65 live in the United States. That number is projected to double by 2030, according to the nonprofit group Sage, which runs a national resource center on LGBTI aging.