SAGE: Advocacy & Services for LGBT Elders
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White House Conference on Aging


SAGE's Four Points of Impact

The White House Conference on Aging (WHCOA) only happens every ten years and it sets national aging policy for the next decade. SAGE constituents, staff and board members from across the nation rose to action in the months leading up to this year’s White House Conference on Aging. This influential event is held every ten years to shape our nation’s policies on aging and enhance the quality of life of older Americans.

Here are some key areas where SAGE made a big difference:

  • Making Inroads Nationwide
  • Media Advocacy Igniting Action
  • Building Better Housing Policy
  • Forward Momentum

Making Inroads Nationwide

SAGE leveraged its robust national network to place an LGBT community member, armed with talking points, in every regional listening session organized by conference leaders before the big event at the White House on July 17, 2015. Advocates were disappointed by the absence of LGBT topics on some agendas. They seized these moments as opportunities to create new dialogue, and took the concerns of LGBT older people to the table -- literally.

Media Advocacy Igniting Action

SAGE harnessed mainstream media through strategic efforts that led The Washington Post to publish a full article on LGBT aging issues the week before the conference. Articles in Time, the Washington Blade, and the Huffington Post also highlighted the need for LGBT-inclusive policy shifts. The result of this strategy? Elevated conversation, increased pressure, and this Washington Post headline on the conference’s opening day: “HUD moves to protect older LGBT people.”

Building Better Housing Policy

Following SAGE’s vocal and persistent advocacy, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a strong directive to protect LGBT older people from discrimination in federally subsidized and insured housing. SAGE is pressing HUD for concrete actions to make sure this breakthrough policy victory is effectively implemented.

Forward Momentum

As a result of SAGE’s advocacy, the federal Administration for Community Living, in collaboration with SAGE, brought together federally-funded aging providers, LGBT-serving organizations, data and research experts, and both LGBT older adults and those with HIV from across the country to talk about how we can all do more to ensure that these vulnerable populations get the services and supports they need. SAGE Chief Executive Officer Michael Adams described the gathering’s purpose as “ensuring that LGBT people are truly being served by the Older Americans Act.” The Denver convening hammered out clear action steps for the federal government and aging providers.

Getting Results

Penelope Starr from Arizona reported, “The people at my table heard my impassioned plea to change the culture of prejudice and discrimination against older LGBT people that denies them access to safe, affordable and appropriate health care.”

Via SAGE's Twitter account, U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Tom Perez asked the panel "How can we bolster #retirement security for #LGBT elders, who face high rates of poverty & thinner family/ social supports networks? #WHCOA" — one of three SAGE questions asked during the conference.

To ensure that individual LGBT voices would be heard at the Conference, SAGE called on its affiliates in 21 states to compile personal stories about LGBT aging. In response, SAGE organizers received incisive comments, heartfelt advice and urgent calls to action from around the country. Nearly 200 of these accounts were submitted to the White House. Our community’s resounding messages:

  • LGBT older Americans hail from all states and communities.
  • Our identities are multifaceted and intersect gender, class, and race.
  • We will not be aging in the closet.

Partnership and Coalitions

SAGE is part of numerous partnerships and coalitions that help advance our policy priorities for LGBT elders at the WHCOA and in other arenas. We are the only LGBT organization in the influential Leadership Council of Aging Organizations; a founding member of the Diverse Elders Coalition; the lead on the National LGBT Aging Roundtable; and a member of the National Coalition for LGBT Health. Additionally, our partnerships with groups such as the National Academy on an Aging Society, the Movement Advancement Project, the Center for American Progress, the National Center for Transgender Equality, the Equal Rights Center, Justice in Aging and the Williams Institute, among others, have helped us produce critical policy reports on our issues. Read our many policy publications.

Our Supporters

SAGE would like to thank the following foundations for their generous support of our advocacy efforts: the Ford Foundation, the Federal Agencies Project and MAC AIDS Fund. Read more about SAGE's other supporters.

To learn more about SAGE's advocacy efforts, please contact us at policy@sageusa.org.

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