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Aging LGBT Populations Face Substantial Economic Hurdles

LgbtMuch of the coverage focusing on elderly queer-identified people highlights the ways in which they are marginalized by mainstream, youth-oriented gay culture. According to an in-depth analysis from the Associated Press however, some of the most difficult challenges facing aging members of the LGBT community are socio-economic. The combined impacts of legacy discriminatory workplace policies, the early AIDS crisis, and slow progress towards marriage equality have created a difficult economic landscape for many gay, “boomer” aged people looking to retire.

According to the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances, same-sex couples save about 25% less for their retirement as compared to their straight counterparts. The analysis, conducted by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that the media amount that straight married couples was about $88,000 while same-sex partners only saved about $66,000. The cause? A lifetime of lower wages and chronic underemployment.

While many corporations have non-discrimination policies now, it is still legal to fire someone for their sexual orientation in 21 states, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Two polls, one by Pew Research in 2013 and one by Gallup in 2012, reached the same conclusion: LGBT individuals were more likely to make less money than their straight peers during their careers. Gay men earned as much as 32 percent less than straight men, according to research by the Williams Institute, a California-based think tank that focuses on LGBT issues.

As a result, gay men and women over 65 are more likely to end up in poverty. Lesbians, who face wage discrimination because of both their gender and sexual orientation, are even more vulnerable.

The economic harms inflicted upon elderly LGBT people are further compounded by a fundamental lack of attention being paid to them as a population. The Department of Health and Human Services, which monitors and surveys elderly minority populations, has yet to begin keeping track of queer people. The lack of hard data linked to the population means that funding for programs geared towards aging gays is difficult to secure.

"In the aging world, there has been little regard for even the existence of LGBT older people, let alone their particular social and financial needs," said executive director of Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders Michael Adams.

Click here to read Ken Sweet's article in full. 


The Declining Wage Gap for Gay Men

Gay-moneyThe wage gap between certain portions of the gay male population and their heterosexual counterparts is on the decline according to a study published in the Kyklos International Review for Social Sciences. Unmarried gay men over the age of 25 who work “blue-collar, male-documented occupations” and cohabitate with their same sex partners are, on average, earning more than unmarried straight men living with their girlfriends.

“These estimates support the view that the overall improvement in people’s perception regarding homosexuality has contributed to reduce the wage gap against gay men in the U.S.” Economists Bruce Elmslie and Edinaldo Tebaldi wrote in their findings.

The gap between married heterosexual men and gay men has similarly shrunk, falling from just below 8% in the 90s to 4.5% in the early 2000s. Elmsie and Tebaldi attribute the shift to an “overall improvement in people’s perception regarding homosexuality,” but warn that their findings shouldn’t suggest that there isn’t more work to be done.

Gay men in sales-oriented and managerial occupations continue to make anywhere from 11-16% less than straight men, and gay men in rural areas and small towns saw significantly lower earnings regardless of their type of work.


Economist Condemns Homophobia Using Economic Impacts

Lee Badgett

Combating homophobia based on theology and "sincerely held" personal beliefs can be a nigh-insurmountable task given the high degree of subjectivity involved in both. Economics professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst Lee Badgett decided she would try a different angle to show that homophobia has quantifiable adverse impacts on society: economics.

Badgett created a case study using an economic model that she applied to India and submitted the preliminary findings to the World Bank earlier this year. Those findings showed that homophobia,

...leads to less education, lower earnings, poorer health and shorter lives. The lost workplace productivity and health problems connected with homophobia cost the United States between $2 billion and $31 billion in 2012.

The wide range is attributed to the scarcity of data on sexual minorities. In addition, she debunked the myth that gay men are flush with cash and showed that gay men actually earn 11-27% less than their heterosexual counterparts. 

Now to stand by and wait with bated breath for the Tea Party, who have long insisted that their party's focus is primarily about economic growth, to roundly condemn anti-gay discrimination.


Homophobia Costs India $31 Billion Annually: VIDEO

Lee Badgett

Homophobia costs India $31 billion annually. Thus is the finding of the World Bank after a preliminary study that attempted to measure the economic cost of excluding sexual minorities.

IndiaIn short, acts of homophobic social exclusion - violence, job loss, discrimination, etc. - lead to individual-level shortcomings in education and earnings, which then translate into economy-level impacts such as higher healthcare and social program costs, and lower economic output.

Depending on which estimate one goes with on the homosexual population of India - a task made difficult by underreporting combined with Indian ideas of sexuality that don't necessarily line up neatly with the Western LGBT quartet - the economic cost of homophobia is between $1.9 billion and $30.8 billion annually, or .01% to 1.7% loss to the GDP. A GDP reduction of that amount would be considered a recession, according to the study's author, University of Massachusetts economist Lee Badgett.

The findings aren't conclusive and the study acknowledges that more research needs to be done. Areas of particular attention going forward will be investing in data on LGBT exclusion, a focus on poverty, research infrastructure, and replicating the study in other countries.

You can see a video of the presentation, which clocks in at a hefty 2 hours, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Homophobia Costs India $31 Billion Annually: VIDEO" »


Jesus Rebranded: VIDEO

Jesus Rebranded

Because if there is one of Jesus' lessons that has gone woefully unaddressed, it is His message of the holy virtues of capitalism. Just in time for Christmas, Mark Fiore brings us a video of Jesus Rebranded. Press the Messiah's sacred heart and hear words of divine inspiration such as:

Capitalism is the reason for the season!

You can serve both God and money.  Go forth and profit!

Go, sell your possessions, and use the money to . . . start a growing, profitable business!  Come, follow me.

Check it out, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Jesus Rebranded: VIDEO" »


Rand Paul Equates Food Stamps with Slavery

RandpaulRand Paul, the Republican senator from Kentucky, is no stranger to Towleroad, given some of the comments he's made in the past. The bombastic senator has previously linked marriage equality to "polygamy" and "non-human marriage", and also encouraged anti-equality advocates to do everything they can to delay marriage equality at the state level. Paul is making even more headlines today, thanks to a profile of the senator's opthalmology practice in National Review Online, in which he compared social safety net programs, such as food stamps, to forced slavery. 

According to ThinkProgress, this isn't the first time Paul has falsely linked the two phenomena:

"The comments are an echo of his 2011 claim that accepting a human right to health care 'means you believe in slavery,' but the Senator’s new variation on the theme is notable because it puts the reasoning behind the crazy in stark relief."

The quote in question ironically comes from a portion of the profile that claims that Paul "loves people":

"As humans, yeah, we do have an obligation to give people water, to give people food, to give people health care, but it’s not a right because once you conscript people and say, ‘Oh, it’s a right,’ then really you’re in charge, it’s servitude, you’re in charge of me and I’m supposed to do whatever you tell me to do."

Rand Paul LiesIronically, he has compared food stamps to slavery in two aspects. The first is the statement you see above: providing someone with food, water, and shelter automatically makes them indebted and subservient to you. He has also made the logical leap that providing people with food stamps means the forcible seizure of food, the by-product of workers such as farmers and manufacturers. ThinkProgress thankfully pointed out several flaws in Paul's logic. First, most academics have accepted the fact that this country currently produces enough food to feed everyone in it. Also:

"A moderately bright high school student could spot the leap of logic here: no one’s forcing anyone to farm against their will. In a democratic-capitalist economy, people have a right to choose their career... A socially-accepted “right to food” merely means the government should pay for the provision of food to those who can’t afford it. No stealing, and definitely no slavery...

"So an influential Senator, a much-ballyhooed candidate for his party’s nomination for the presidency, has been consistently espousing a worldview, reflected in his budget, that logically implies virtually all major government programs are slavery. And we live in times where that’s acceptable enough that it’s buried in the middle of a piece about volunteer ophthalmology."

Of course, the fact that quote comes from a piece about volunteer opthalmology makes it sort of doubly ironic. According to the piece, Paul performs approximately 10 to 15 pro bono eye surgeries a year. He says that “I’ve always done some since I’ve been in practice, because I wanted to be able to give back to the community." Would that sort of admission constitute a slavery of Paul by his less fortunate patients? Precisely what difference is there between slavery, by his standards, and "giving back to the community"? 


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