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The Takeaway: White House Holds First LGBT Conference on Aging

The first in a series of White House conferences devoted to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender aging was held in Miami yesterday. Many of the issues addressed-retirement security, health care, housing-are concerns shared by older Americans of all sexual stripes. But LGBT seniors also face unique obstacles, including discrimination and a lack of certain legal protections.

For instance, until two months ago, same-gender couples could be banned from sharing subsidized senior residences or other public housing because they are not married. New rules passed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recently broadened the definition of "family" so these couples could qualify. But HUD still must work to make sure the policy is applied, an agency representative said.

LGBT adults are also four times less likely to have children and twice as likely to be single and live alone in old age, explained Michael Adams, executive director of  SAGE USA.

They're more likely to be disconnected from their family of origin. It makes this population particularly vulnerable."

That this first conference was held in Miami is no accident: The area has one of the largest gay populations in the country. Speakers included Kathy Greenlee, an out lesbian administrator at the U.S. Health and Human Services Department; and Rafael Bostic, a gay assistant secretary for policy development and research of the Housing & Urban Development Department.

For more on older LGBT Americans, check out AARP's Pride page.

Tuesday Quick Hits:

  • Aging politicians: At the onset of this congressional session, the average senator was 62.2 and the average member of the House was 56.7, NPR notes. As Brookings Institution fellow Sarah Binder points out: 'There are good reasons why we might want seasoned veterans working to craft legislation. The energy of younger legislators doesn't necessarily make them better legislators."
  • Federal workers: Is the predicted federal "retirement tsunami" on or off?, columnist Mike Causey wonders. "The government is graying, and thousands of baby boomers are becoming retirement-eligible each month. Yet they continue to hang on in droves."
  • And .. RIP Maurice Sendak: The Where the Wild Things Are author died this morning, at age 83. The cause was complications from a recent stroke, his editor said.
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