Law, Rights, and Religion Project

Document Type


Publication Date



LGBT older adults, like many older Americans in the United States, rely on a network of service providers as they age–for community programming and congregate meals, for health care, and for housing ranging from independent living to skilled nursing. Research finds that a majority of these services are offered by religiously affiliated organizations.

While many of these religiously affiliated facilities provide quality care for millions of older adults, there is a coordinated effort to pass religious exemption laws, issue executive orders and agency guidance, and to litigate court cases to allow individuals, businesses, and even government contractors and grantees to use religion to discriminate. These laws are particularly worrisome for LGBT elders. Religious exemption laws jeopardize the security and safety of LGBT older adults at a time when they are most vulnerable and most in need. When providing health care and other elder-specific services, patients should always come first.

This report provides an overview of the most concerning of these religious exemption laws and how they impact LGBT older adults. It is important to note, however, that many of these religious exemption laws have much broader impacts on various vulnerable communities, including LGBT people generally, women, single and unmarried parents, interfaith couples, and people of color.