SAGE: Advocacy & Services for LGBT Elders
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For Immediate Release

December 22, 2010

SAGE Applauds Signing of Historic Repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell

[New York, NY] Today President Obama signed a historic bill allowing for the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT). The signing follows Saturday's congressional repeal of the 17-year-old ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual people serving openly in the U.S. military.

"This is a major victory for lesbian, gay and bisexual people, who will now be able to serve openly and honestly," said Michael Adams, executive director of SAGE (Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders). "The ranks of SAGE are full of elder veterans who served their country but were treated like second class citizens simply because of who they are. They've lived with that burden for decades—this important step forward will change that."

For Garrison Phillips, an 81-year-old Korean War veteran and longtime SAGE constituent, the repeal of DADT represents a significant moment for both current and past service members.

"This repeal helps anyone who is lesbian, gay or bisexual to stop the lies that have defined almost every moment of their lives. This is a major step forward in helping people understand that how we live our lives is not a choice, it's the way we were created," said Phillips.

For LGBT older adults who are veterans, some pronounced inequities remain. According to SAGE's report with the Movement Advancement Project, Improving the Lives of LGBT Older Adults, the partners of lesbian, gay and bisexual veterans are still denied benefits that are available to veterans' heterosexual spouses. For example, same-sex couples are not eligible for the needs-based death benefit paid to an un-remarried surviving spouse of a deceased wartime veteran.

The report also notes that veterans' hospitals fall under federal law and therefore do not recognize same-sex partners or families of choice, raising issues around visitation rights and medical decision-making if a veteran obtains medical services through these providers.

Despite these lingering barriers, for many in our community, this week is a time to celebrate.

"Especially after 81 years, for me it's an extraordinarily momentous event," said Phillips.

Read more about the impact of the DADT repeal on gay and lesbian service members, including Garrison Phillips>>

Read more about Phillips' personal story of serving in the military while in the closet>>

Read the full report Improving the Lives of LGBT Older Adults>>

SAGE is the country's largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older adults. Founded in 1978 and headquartered in New York City, SAGE is a national organization that advocates for public policy changes that address the needs of LGBT older people. SAGE also offers supportive services and consumer resources to LGBT older adults and their caregivers, provides education and technical assistance for aging providers and LGBT organizations through its National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, and cultural competence training through SAGECare. With staff located across the country, SAGE coordinates a growing network of affiliates across the country. Learn more at

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