The Bay Area Municipal Elections Committee (BAYMEC) has begun its endorsement process for the 2018 election cycle. BAYMEC is a political action organization representing the interest of the LGBTQ communities in Monterey, Santa Cruz, Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties. Candidates for any elected office in our four-county region are eligible for a BAYMEC endorsement.
At a nursing home in California, a male resident was denied use of nail polish or help in applying it. A lesbian in the same facility refers to her partner who visits as her sister. Recent studies confirm that LGBTQ experience mistreatment in long term care facilities that often rises to the level of abuse or neglect. For many LGBTQ Seniors, the only option is to go back in the closet. With the passage of SB 219, it is unlawful for a long term care facility to take specified actions wholly or partially on the basis of a person’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, gender expression or HIV status.
The Bill was authored by State Senator Scott Wiener and sponsored by Equality California. It was approved by Governor Brown on October 4, 2017.
The LGBT Senior Bill of Rights requires facilities to refer to residents by their preferred pronoun and prohibits facilities from denying admission, involuntarily discharging, evicting or transferring a resident based on LGBT status. Under the new law, LGBT Seniors in a long term care facility have the right to wear or be dressed in clothing, accessories or cosmetics that are permitted by others.
“These LGBT seniors are the pioneers who fought for and won the rights and freedoms so many of us enjoy today.” said Senator Wiener. He went on to say, “Supporting these heroes is a moral imperative, especially as they face discrimination, invisibility, unique health challenges and frequent lack of family support.”
Facilities must post a notice of the LGBT Bill of Rights where the facilities’ nondiscrimination policy is posted. Finding a facility that is welcoming to someone who is LGBT is a challenge. Peers can mistreat, ostracize and marginalize their LGBT neighbors. Many LGBT don’t have children and are aging alone. This new law is a significant step in addressing discrimination against LGBT seniors in long term care facilities.
The Hill reported on Saturday that the Trump administration “appears poised to roll back ObamaCare’s anti-discrimination protections for transgender patients.” The Obama-era rule prohibits healthcare providers and insurers receiving federal money from “denying treatment or coverage to anyone based on sex, gender identity, or termination of pregnancy.” The rule further stipulates that doctors and hospitals are required to provide “medically necessary” to transgender individuals, “as long as those services were the same ones provided to others.”
According to a 2015 report by the National Center for Transgender Equality, fully one third of transgender individuals who had seen a healthcare provider in the last year reported at least one negative experience related to their gender identity. The rates were higher among transgender individuals of color and with disabilities. Examples of these negative experiences included refusal of care, verbal harassment, and physical or sexual assault.
Such treatment of the transgender community is unacceptable and utterly contrary to the values of a democratic society. BAYMEC stands with the transgender community and condemns the administration’s desire to roll back these vital protections and access to healthcare.
While not yet released, the Trump administration’s proposed rule is expected in the coming weeks or months. But we will not wait until the proposed rule is published and public comment opens. BAYMEC will engage our local members of Congress now to oppose these actions by the Trump administration. We will not be idle.
In 2016, California passed AB1887 restricting government travel to North Carolina, Mississippi, Tennessee and Kansas in response them passing laws discriminating against LGBTQ people. That list grew this week after a review of new laws were passed this year in Alabama, South Dakota, and Texas.
Many communities that supported a Trump presidential agenda are scrambling to roll back protections and force LGBTQ people back into the closet.
This back and forth from lawmakers in different states is symbolic of what is happening in our country around equality and how we treat each other.
When a government raises a flag that represents a particular minority community, it sends a message that you are welcome, accepted and protected by that government. This month White House failed to issue a proclamation for LGBTQ Pride month but chose to create one for birds.
It is an unfortunate reality that the treatment of minorities is often related to how our leaders publicly treat these groups. So when the fourth smallest city in our county decided to raise the rainbow flag for the first time this week, it was very timely and did not go unnoticed. That gesture will have an effect on the treatment of LGBTQ people in Santa Clara.
If we are to roll back the hate that has sprung up around the country, we must look around in our local communities and ensure that all are welcomed and embraced.
No matter where you live in the United States right now, if you are a vulnerable minority, it can feel like you are being attacked. If you live in Santa Clara, you may feel a little better driving down El Camino Real now that those bright colors are flying above city hall.
As Pride month comes to an end, take a moment appreciate all the work that has been done to get us to where we are today. Then think about what you will do to help us get to where we need to be.
To learn how you can get involved with us to make a difference follow us on social media or sign up for a membership at www.baymec.org/join.
Happy Pride From the BAYMEC Board of Directors.