SAGE expands its Care Can’t Wait campaign, joins forces with NCLR to shine spotline on LGBT elder housing discrimination[New York, NY] Yesterday the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), Relman, Dane & Colfax PLLC, and co-counsel filed a lawsuit on behalf of married lesbian couple Mary Walsh and Bev Nance against St. Louis senior housing community Friendship Village Sunset Hills.
Friendship Village refused Mary and Bev, who have been together for 40 years, because it followed the “Biblical definition” of marriage and “defined marriage as between a man and a woman.”
“The horrible discrimination experienced by this older lesbian couple – for something as basic as senior housing – is a stark reminder of the challenges that many LGBT elders face,” said SAGE CEO Michael Adams. “We know that this story is far from unique. Research shows that 45 percent of same-sex couples who apply for senior housing in Missouri are discriminated against. This lawsuit will help ensure that Mary and Bev – and all older same-sex couples—will have the same access to senior housing as everybody else.”
In response, SAGE is expanding its Care Can’t Wait campaign by asking community members and supporters to sign a pledge to stand with Mary and Bev, and all LGBT elders, in the face of discrimination. As the lawsuit advances, SAGE and its campaign will encourage other forms of action and activism in support of Mary and Bev and in opposition to discrimination.
“Bev and Mary faced painful discrimination—and would not have if either of them were instead married to a man,” said NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter. “This story demonstrates the severity of the discrimination and harm that members of our community still face daily. NCLR thanks SAGE for its important work to increase public education and eliminate this discrimination in the lives of LGBTQ seniors.”
SAGE is the country’s largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) older people. Founded in 1978 and headquartered in New York City, SAGE is a national organization that offers supportive services and consumer resources to LGBT older people and their caregivers. SAGE also advocates for public policy changes that address the needs of LGBT elders, provides education and technical assistance for aging providers and LGBT community organizations through its National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, and cultural competency training through SAGECare. With staff located across the country, SAGE also coordinates SAGENet, a growing network of affiliates in the United States. Learn more at sageusa.org.