LGBT Older Adults: Rethinking Aging Laws for Today's Older Adults

September 2010 | Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE), Movement Advancement Project (MAP)

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Most federal and state safety net programs that support older adults are built around the presumption of a married heterosexual couple. This presumption simply does not match the reality of the lives of today's older adults. Almost one-third of the entire population aged 65 and older are widowed men and women, and 42 percent of women aged 65 and older and 59 percent of women aged 75 and older are widowed. Many heterosexual elders live in domestic partnerships, often because marrying or remarrying would result in unaffordable financial consequences. Just more than 4 percent of older adults (including those in religious orders and those who simply choose to remain single) were never married. Another 4 percent of older adults are gay, lesbian, or bisexual, and may be single or in a legally recognized same-sex relationship. Policymakers need to examine ways to adapt laws and safety nets to help protect all of today's older adults. One of eleven issue briefs based on the SAGE/MAP report Improving the Lives of LGBT Older Adults.

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