As they get older, same-sex couples have the same needs as other married couples, but they had been excluded from key federal programs by the Defense of Marriage Act. Yesterday, the Administration on Community Living (ACL) at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published guidance further implementing last summer's Supreme Court decision in U.S. v. Windsor.  This publication provides critical guidance for ACL grantees who receive funds from HHS to work directly with individuals covered by the Older Americans Act (OAA).

This guidance directs all ACL programs to recognize same-sex spouses who were lawfully married in any state, territory, or foreign jurisdiction as family members regardless of where the couple is currently residing.  For purposes of OAA programs, this policy will ensure that same-sex spouses are recognized by the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities as well as the Administration on Aging (AOA).  These spouses will now be recognized and have access to critical caregiver support programs and will be recognized as "family" within the definition of the OAA. 

HRC encouraged the Department to adopt this inclusive definition of family under the OAA and applauds this far-reaching and much needed guidance.

To view yesterday's guidance from ACL, click here.  To learn more about HRC's work around aging issues visit


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