In Face of Right-Wing Attacks, LGBT Long-term Care Senior Bill of Rights Passes Senate Committee

March 29, 2017

Sacramento –  Yesterday, the Senate Human Services Committee passed SB219, authored by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) - the LGBT Senior Long-Term Care Bill of Rights for seniors in long term care facilities - despite attacks from anti-LGBT hate groups and the conservative media. The vote was 3-1 in committee, with Senators Steve Glazer (D-Orinda) and Josh Newman (D-Fullerton) joining Senator Wiener in support.

Equality California is sponsoring the legislation, and Assemblymembers David Chiu (D-San Francisco) and Sabrina Cervantes (D-Corona) are co-authoring the legislation. The bill is also supported by the American Civil Liberties Union, the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, Justice in Aging, the National Association of Social Workers, National Center for Transgender Equality, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the Transgender Law Center, Alzheimer’s Orange County and others.

Scare tactics used by opponents of the bill mirror the arguments used against transgender bathroom bills, including that “perpetrators” could “prey upon unsuspecting, vulnerable victims.”  The Pacific Justice Institute claims that SB 219 could turn long-term care facilities into bordellos. One article on the website LifeSite refused to use the word transgender, instead opting for “gender-confused” and quoted an organization that says Democrats in Sacramento working to pass SB 219 and other LGBT rights bills believe in “sexual anarchy.” 

“Our LGBT seniors paved the way for all of us living today, fighting for our civil rights and against the AIDS epidemic that decimated our community,” said Senator Wiener. “Ensuring these seniors can age with dignity and respect is the least we can do to support them, especially as they face discrimination, unique health challenges, and often lack family support. Some of the attacks against this bill would be laughable, if they weren’t so frighteningly indicative of how some in our society view the LGBT community. But to be clear – the more these hateful, ignorant, and absurd attacks come, the more resolved I am to fight to ensure our LGBT seniors are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.”

SB 219 protects LGBT seniors from discrimination in long-term care facilities, such as a facility refusing to use a resident’s preferred name or pronoun, denying admission to a long-term care facility, transferring a resident within a facility or to another facility based on anti-LGBT attitudes of other residents, or evicting or involuntarily discharging a resident from a facility, on the basis of a person’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, gender expression, or HIV status.  In addition, the bill requires that all long-term care facilities post a notice regarding this form of discrimination where its current non-discrimination policy is posted.