Equality California
Governor Signs Senior Care Bill

2008 Press Releases

September 29, 2008

CONTACT: Alice Kessler, Director of Government Affairs
PHONE: (916) 548-7795 EMAIL: alice@eqca.org

Governor Signs Senior Care Bill

Migden Measure, Sponsored by EQCA, Will Train Healthcare Professionals on Needs of LGBT Seniors to Prevent Isolation, Discrimination in Senior Care Facilities

SACRAMENTO – Legislation that will help prevent bias in senior care facilities and nursing homes was signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Sunday, September 28. Senate Bill 1729, which will train licensed health professionals about the unique needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) seniors, will go into law on January 1, 2009.

SB 1729, authored by Sen. Carole Migden, D-San Francisco, and sponsored by Equality California will help create safe environments within senior care facilities that are free from bias for all older Californians.

“Some members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community living in nursing homes have been denied their most basic rights, including the simple choice to spend time with a loved one, because of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said EQCA Executive Director Geoff Kors. “We appreciate the support of Gov. Schwarzenegger and the Legislature for approving this measure, which will proactively create a culture of respect and understanding for all seniors living in care facilities.”

SB 1729 would require licensed healthcare professionals who have constant interaction with seniors to participate in a training program that focuses on preventing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Many health professionals already receive cultural diversity training, but it does not include information and education about LGBT issues.

“No senior should be denied the care they need or forced to face indignities because of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Sen. Migden. “I applaud the governor for signing this important legislation that will help foster respect for seniors who rely on the support of others for some of their most basic needs.”

Basic rights, such as the choice to live in the same nursing home with a partner and the right to hospital visitation are routinely denied to same-gender couples in older age, according to a 2000 study from the Policy Institute of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. The study also shows that same-gender partners lack essential protections, including Medicaid benefits and access to pensions, which typically protect the homes and retirement funds of surviving spouses who are married.

Founded in 1998, Equality California celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2008, commemorating a decade of building a state of equality in California. EQCA is a nonprofit, statewide advocacy organization whose mission is to achieve equality and civil rights of all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Californians. www.eqca.org  

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