Planning with Purpose: Legal Basics for LGBTQ Elders points the way on legal issues

(San Francisco, California, July 6, 2009) —Today, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) released a new publication to help lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) elders and their families and caregivers navigate legal issues. Planning with

Purpose: Legal Basics for LGBTQ Elders provides basic information about select areas of the law that are important to LGBTQ elders, especially individuals and couples who are age 55 and over, based on NCLR’s experience advocating for LGBTQ elders. This guide includes information about issues related to relationship recognition, finances, health care, long term care, planning for the care of minor or disabled children, inheritance, elder abuse, and discrimination against LGBTQ elders. It covers many of areas where rights, benefits, and protections are generally provided to heterosexual people based on spousal status, but are denied to same-sex couples, even if married or in other legal unions. It also highlights issues unique to transgender elders.

“LGBTQ people have made progress on our civil rights, but there is still a lot to consider if you are an older LGBTQ person in the U.S.,” says NCLR Elder Law Project Consultant Joyce Pierson. “While it may not be easy to think about your life from a legal perspective, it is extremely important that you learn about and use all of the legal protections available to you. Planning is the key.”

Since 1999, NCLR’s Elder Law Project has been empowering LGBTQ seniors to protect themselves, and advocating for equal treatment of LGBTQ seniors in law, public policy, health care and senior health, and social services. NCLR is committed to bringing LGBTQ people into the aging services network nationwide and to bringing elders into the center of the larger LGBTQ movement for justice and equality.

For this publication, NCLR worked closely with SAGE: Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders. SAGE is the world’s oldest and largest non-profit agency addressing the needs of LGBTQ older adults, and is an invaluable ally in this work.

“Information is power, and this new publication from NCLR will give LGBTQ older adults across the country vital information that they can use to advocate for themselves and vindicate their legal rights,” says SAGE Executive Director Michael Adams. “Empowering LGBTQ older adults with information is a central tenet of SAGE’s mission, so we’re proud to be part of this project and extremely pleased with our growing partnership with NCLR.”

“We are excited about the release of this publication, which will provide LGBTQ elders with information they need to protect themselves and their families,” said Kate Kendell, NCLR Executive Director. “Dealing with a discriminatory legal system can be daunting, and this publication is designed to help LGBTQ elders take charge of their own fates.”

To download a pdf of Planning with Purpose, click here (pdf).

The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.