Senator Wiener’s LGBT Seniors Bill of Rights Passes Assembly, Moves to Governor for Approval

September 12, 2017

Sacramento –Today Senate Bill 219 by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), which creates an LGBT Seniors Bill of Rights for seniors living in long-term care facilities, was approved by the California State Assembly. The bill was approved by the California Senate this past Spring, and now moves to the Governor’s desk after a Senate concurrence vote. Equality California is sponsoring SB 219, and the bill is co-authored by Assemblymembers David Chiu (D-San Francisco) and Sabrina Cervantes (D-Corona.)

“These LGBT seniors are the pioneers who fought for and won the rights and freedoms so many of us enjoy today,” said Senator Wiener. “Supporting these heroes is a moral imperative, especially as they face discrimination, invisibility, unique health challenges, and frequent lack of family support. The LGBT Seniors Bill of Rights will help our elders age with the dignity and respect they have earned a hundreds times over.”

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.

“After struggling to come out at a time when same-sex conduct was still criminalized and fighting the first and most difficult battles for LGBTQ civil rights, discrimination in long term care is forcing many LGBTQ seniors back into the closet,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California. “SB 219 would help protect LGBTQ seniors when they’re at their most vulnerable, and help ensure that care facilities provide culturally-competent care.”

The right-wing media - including Breitbart and Fox News - has launched repeated false and transphobic attacks against SB 219, including using scare tactics mirroring the arguments used against transgender bathroom access and also by claiming that people will go to jail for using the wrong pronoun for LGBT seniors. Senator Wiener’s statement on those attacks can be found here.

According to a 2011 study “Stories from the Field; LGBT Older Adults in Long-Term Care Facilities,” published by the National Senior Citizens Law Center, 89% of respondents indicated that they believe caretakers would discriminate against them for being LGBT; 43% personally witnessed or experienced mistreatment of LGBT seniors.

For more information about the SB 219 and its supporters, view the Fact Sheet here.