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January 20, 2006
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Volume 34
Issue 03
 
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Diversity in Aging Coalition being formed
Diversity in Aging Coalition being formed
SAGE is the first Gay organizaiton at White House aging conference

SAGE, Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders, made history by being the first GLBT organization represented at the White House Conference on Aging. The Conference, which took place December 11- 14, happens every 10 years and brings together delegates from across the country to address issues affecting older Americans.

SAGE hopes to keep the increasing diversity of the aging population at the forefront of policy initiatives adopted as a result of this conference. Past conferences have resulted in the Older Americans Act and the creation of Medicare and Medicaid.

Terry Kaelber, executive director of SAGE who was a delegate and the organization's representative at the conference, sees success in the outcome of the conference.

"I know that many delegates - including myself - were disappointed with the way that the conference was organized and messages controlled, but even so the GLBT community was able to have our voices heard and many of our issues recognized and incorporated into the overall results", said Mr. Kaelber. "So in that respect I think this conference was a victory for GLBT elders and for diversity in general, especially considering the uphill battle that we faced."

Specific achievements Kaelber points to are the inclusion of diversity language in several resolution implementation strategies as well as the inclusion of GLBT elders in the definition of a minority suffering healthcare disparities. Given that the majority of delegates were appointed by Republican politicians, this inclusion is striking and somewhat surprising since conservatives are generally perceived as being unreceptive to diversity efforts and GLBT rights specifically.

Perhaps even more important is the potential for further advancements for the GLBT community that may come out of this conference. According to Kaelber, "I think people really felt charged up by the conference experience and want to continue that momentum beyond the conference environment."

Kaelber, backed by SAGE and other organizations, is now engaged in developing a coalition to work on, among other things, ensuring that the implementation strategies recommended by the delegates are actually adopted by the Bush Administration.

"This new group will act as a watchdog, making sure that diversity issues - including those of the GLBT community - are not left out of any policies that come out of this. We'll also continue to look for ways to keep diversity issues on the forefront of discussions around aging."

According to SAGE, census data indicates that both the size of the aging population as well as the diversity of that population are increasing dramatically. Says Mr. Kaelber, "That's why the recognition of diversity in all its forms is important - so we can make sure that appropriate programs and services are in place to meet the needs of this increasingly diverse population."

To learn more about SAGE, please visit www.sageusa.org. To learn more about the diversity coalition, please email tkwhcoa@sageusa.org.

SAGE is the world's oldest & largest organization devoted specifically to meeting the needs of aging GLBT persons. Through direct services, SAGE is creating a better aging experience for GLBT seniors in New York City. And through education and advocacy, a better aging future for all Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender people throughout the United States.



A SAGE press release

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