Category Archives: LGBT Couples

Two Years Past


Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies. Aristotle

We are taking a break from the thesis project today to remember a significant day in our life. For as long as I live, I know March 9th is going to come around every year.  Significant in the sense that I will always remember March 9th as being the day that Richard made his life transition.  Together as one, our lives changed forever on that day in 2014.

Sure, the pain of losing him has gotten softer, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t miss him quite a bit.  The love we shared is still strong.   I did not want the day to go unnoticed, nor do I want to belabor the point either.   Finding that gentle balance when you lose the love of your life takes time.  Getting over it, means something different to each one of us.  We don’t really get over it, we adjust to it and move on as best we can. The love we shared is still strong in my heart and always present in my life.

I’m not sure what I will do when March 9th rolls around next year, but what I do know for sure is that my faith tells me that I will see him again, my mind tells me that he is forever pain free and my heart tells me that he is standing right behind me.

Enjoy some of our favorite photo’s from our eleven years together.

  Never miss out on a chance to tell that special person in your life that you love them!

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Filed under After Caregiving, Caregiving, LGBT Caregiving, LGBT Couples, LGBT Seniors

Moving To Acceptance


The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Lao Tzu

I’m not sure there is a moving company one can call when you are preparing to move to acceptance.  Moving to acceptance is one of those moves you have to do on your own.  Sure, it is important to receive some help during the move, but in the long run, moving to acceptance is a journey that you have to travel on your own and in your own time.  Moving to acceptance does come with a few bumps inlights the road. While on the move to acceptance, there will be days when the roads will be smooth and the sky so blue that you feel you’re just a stones throw away from completing your move to acceptance. Those days will be quite beautiful! Then there will be days when those darn red lights appear at an intersection which just stops you in your tracks!  That red light just seems linger on and on which makes you want to beat on your steering wheel and scream to the top of your voice so that you can continue on your route. (Those are the days during this move when screaming is Okay!) When you get a red light that just seems to linger, this is a good time to take a break from your move before you run out of gas, because when you run out of gas, you never get to move to acceptance.

There is no GPS device that will help guide you on the move to acceptance however, from time to time, there will be many kind folks who will join you on your ride to help keep you on your path on your move to acceptance.  These “riders” often appear out of the blue sky, and when you need them the most.  They don’t mind helping you with your move, because they see your road from a different perspective and know just what to say, and just what to do while you are on your move to acceptance.   What is great about these “riders” is they reconnect you to your route after those nasty red lights stop you in your tracks so that you can continue on with your move to acceptance! 11410888-smooth-road-ahead-good-times-recovery-yellow-street-sign-1is84y6Some of these “riders” might be on their own move to acceptance, some might have already arrived at acceptance. There will be a “rider” or two who will jump in the car with you who you haven’t seen in a while, yet even after many years have gone by, you pick up just where you left off with these “riders” and your friendship is in full sail again. Heck, you might even pick up a friendly “hitchhiker” along they way, someone you do not know, who pops into your life when you least expect it, who has experienced their own move to acceptance and would like to share their route with you.  All these “riders” have their own place in the vehicle and tend to stay just long enough to ensure you stay on the correct route in order for you to move to acceptance.

 The great thing about moving to acceptance is that you do not have to take the interstate highway to arrive at your destination. Moving to acceptance is better suited for those country roads where you can drive at your own pace, and most importantly, in your own time. There will be days on your move to acceptance where you will want to pull off the road and take the scenic route: Do it! The scenic route will be filled with views of wonderful memories which will help you on your movemoving on to acceptance. Cherish the scenic view! As you get closer to your destination, the scenic views will be like a picture book that sits on your coffee table, however, this book will be forever yours, always entrenched in your memory, always with you on your move to acceptance.

Moving to acceptance can be difficult, but it is a worthwhile move! What is great about this move to acceptance is not only the terrific views, the awesome people you meet along the way, but the ultimate – arriving at the destination with all the memories of the this great move still intact!  Is there a specific “sign” that you have moved to acceptance? No, not really because the “sign” you have arrived at acceptance will be different for each one of us, and that is Okay because all our routes on our move to acceptance will be different, too. Yet a tell-tail-sign that you are getting close to arriving at acceptance is when those scenic views turn from sadness to joy, and you begin to accept, after your long journey in search of what you need – you come to know and understand that what you have been searching for while on your move to acceptance, has, and will always be, in your heart and forever at home with you. This is when then you know, first hand, that you have made your move to acceptance because you now realize and accept that the one you are missing the most, will always right beside you!

Wishing you and yours a Happy Holiday Season

Listen and see our video chat with  Denise Brown from Caregiving.com  as Denise interviews me about Moving to Acceptance After Caregiving ends by clicking here!

wpid-wp-1448113432219.jpegChris’ Book, “What’s The Deal With Caregiving” is available on Amazon by clicking here!

 

 

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LGBT Caregiving on Healing Ties Radio


Join us on Wednesday, April 1st at 7 pm EST on HealthCafeLive.com as we visit with Ernest    Olivas from Emerald Elite Senior Home Care in Wilton Manors, FL.  Serving the senior LGBT        community in the greater Fort Lauderdale area, Ernest and the staff at Emerald Elite Senior Home Care understand the concerns LGBT
Seniors have when accessing care.  We will talk about the      issues facing LGBT seniors and accessing care and how the staff at Emerald Elite match all their      clients with the right professional Caregiver.    Tune in and hear our ’Healing Ties’ Juke Box song       selected by our guest and  learn how Ernest and Emerald Elite Senior Home Health Care is creating Healing Ties all around us!  Cannot listen live?  NO WORRIES!  Healing Ties is available on demand on our Healing Ties iHeart Channel

To listen to the show live…Simply click here! 

To listen on demand at iHeart Radio, Simply click here! 

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Filed under Healing Ties Radio Show, LGBT Caregiving, LGBT Couples, LGBT Seniors

Pulitzer Prize Nomination: A Posthumous Birthday Gift


Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead. Oscar Wilde

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Photo Credit: Carline Jean Photographer for the Sun-Sentinel

Today, January 24, would have been Richard’s eighty-fourth birthday. Last year we celebrated with a small group of friends at one of our favorite stopping grounds, D’Angelo’s, in Fort Lauderdale; it was a fun-filled evening that everyone will always remember.  One of my favorite photos from our story, ‘In Sickness and In Health: A Couple’s Final Journey was snapped at D’Angelo’s last year.  Anticipating those delicious Petit Fours, you see us both peering into the box, as if we are playing a game of peek-a-boo.  While I forget how many Petit Fours were in the box, I do remember that by the next morning, the box was empty!

This week comes the word that our story, ‘In Sickness and In Health: A Couple’s Final Journey’ has been nominated by the Sun-Sentinel for Pulitzer Prize consideration.  I think it is fitting that I share this information with you today on what would have been Richard’s eighty-fourth birthday.  Both modest, yet very accomplished, Sun-Sentinel journalist Diane Lade and photojournalist Carline Jean told our story in a very loving way that has touched over 400,000 people worldwide.  I am thankful because the story has provided me with a very special memory that will last a lifetime.

Those who knew Richard knew him to be a private person.  For him to agree to do the story was his gift of love, care, and commitment to me.  I return it two-fold.  I am reminded of some sage advice that I have received along the way since Richard’s life transition: ‘The feeling of missing him will get softer, but the love you shared will always be strong.’  I think of these words of wisdom quite often, especially today on his birthday with this special news, reminds me how strong love can be in one’s life.

My faith tells me that I will see him again; my mind tells me that he is forever pain-free; my heart tells me that he is right next to me.

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Superstars: Diane Lade and Carline Jean

I thank Diane Lade and Carline Jean for telling our story through the lens of love, care and commitment as that was the true story of our life together.  In my book, they have already won; they also won Richard’s heart along the way, too.  For without their demonstration of professionalism, along with the love, care, and commitment they showed to us on this journey, Richard never would have felt comfortable, especially over the last few months,  to continue with the story as the cancer took over his body.

Richard said to me just a few weeks before he made his life transition, “Diane and Carline are going to have quite an end to their story.”  That Sunday afternoon on March 9, 2014 when Richard made his life transition, he waited for Diane and Carline to arrive in order to say his goodbye to two people who he allowed into his heart.  Richard let very few people into his life, and in his way, by this very deserving nomination, Richard’s love, care, and commitment, continues to give back to the people he loved, cared and trusted the most.

Congratulations to Diane, Carline and the entire Sun-Sentinel Staff who worked on this project.

Diane Lade and Carline Jean will always have a special place in my heart.

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Filed under Esophagus Cancer, LGBT Couples, LGBT Seniors

52 Years And Still Going Strong!


Join us on Wednesday January 14th  at 7 pm EST on HealthCafeLive.com for an enlightening  conversation with Bob Collier and Chuck Hunziker.  What is so special about Bob and Chuck…EVERYTHING!  Bob and Chuck are both veterans, pillars in their community and they just happen to be a couple celebrating 52 years together!  Both in their 80’s, Bob and Chuck, never meant to be activists or plaintiffs in a lawsuit that would change Florida law, they just   happen to be two people who want the world to be a better place for all of us to live. This is a couple who is creating ‘Healing Ties’ all around us!

Can’t listen live on Wednesday?  NO Worries!  Healing Ties radio is available on demand on iHeartRadio/HealingTies by clicking here!

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It Would Have Been Awesome: But It Was!


“It Would Be Awesome To Get Married, Even If For One Day, Because It Would Solidify What We Already Know ” ~ Chris MacLellan November 2013

weddingringsWhen the clock struck 12:00 am on Tuesday, January 6th in the State of Florida, same-sex marriage became the law of this fine state: Hooray I said! Of course there will be people appalled by this decision to grant equal rights under the protection of marriage; bully to them! I wonder about those who ‘worry’ about granting equal rights to same-sex couples through marriage?  Do they need a ‘piece of paper’ to signify their love? We’ve heard the religious arguments, the family values arguments, heck, even heard that world might end if same-sex marriage became law. Last time I looked outside, the ground was still standing firm in this fine state of Florida.

Same sex couples have known for a zillion years that we do not need a ‘piece of paper’ to solidify our love; however that ‘piece of paper’ does solidify our equal rights.   Bigotry and hatred, unfortunately, will always be  around us, yet that ‘piece of paper’ provides clear protection  to all couples who have been together, one day, or 50+ years.  When you look closely into the laws, both federal and state, and see how laws are granted to those who are married, this ‘argument’  of  marriage equality comes into perspective.   As Americans, we do not often like to talk about death and dying, but all the rights granted by marriage are intertwined at the time of death.   Did you know that in every state of the nation that the next of kin for an adult is a spouse! Until you’ve been denied the right to be with the one that you love at the time of death, or asked, ‘Who Are You’ by medical staff, or have been told, ‘your not next of kin’ after your partner hasThe Bow Tie Guys passed away, you never fully grasp the inequality.

Yes, this day is bitter-sweet for me: I’m sure I am not alone.  Richard and I talked about getting married, and it would have been an awesome thing to do!   I can’t imagine us getting married would have deepened our love, it just would have solidified what was already known! Yet I do hope our Caregiving story, In Sickness and In Health: A Couple’s Final Journey and what happened to us along the way as an unmarried couple,  helped pave the way for this historic day in Florida.   In some small way, I am sure that it did! 

Yes, it would have been awesome to get married, but our life was awesome together, without that ‘piece of paper! It would have been awesome to gather our  family and friends together for a ceremony, but heck, they all knew that we loved each other, that we were committed to each other, without that ‘piece of paper.’  As one of my sisters said to me today, “Heck, you two were everything to each hands touchginother, but married.” She was so right, because, in the end, the only thing that matters is that love, care and commitment is the same for any two people who are committed to each other as one.  Our ‘piece of paper’ was imprinted in our hearts.

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Filed under Caregiving, In Sickness and In Health, LGBT, LGBT Caregiving, LGBT Couples, Marriage Equlity

Washing Away 2014 With One Last Toast


When love is at its best, one loves so much that he cannot forget.  Helen Hunt Jackson

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New Years Eve Toast 2013. Photo Credit: Carline Jean Sun-Sentinel

Last week during the Christmas holiday, we took a drive down memory lane and visited all the beautiful lights on Ocean Drive in Palm Beach and Broward County.  The outpouring of support from those two blog post is most appreciate.

As we move into the New Year, I do not want to forget about 2014, but I do want to wash it away.  Healing and grieving is different for everyone who has gone through the loss of a loved one.  Grieving would not be hard if love was not involved. Healing would be next to impossible without family and friends like you!

This year, I have decided not to make any new year resolutions, but rather to make some new year commitments.  In 2015, I will commit to taking better care of myself, including my physical, emotional, spiritual and financial self.  There is no secret weapon or path to accomplish this; taking better care of myself is something that is important to my healing process.   Caregivers understand that the last person who gets care, is the Caregiver.  Now, it is time for me to embark on a new caregiving role; caring for myself.

In 2015, I will continue to advocate for Caregivers and their Caree’s through my new radio show, Healing TiesTieHands on Health Cafe Life.com and iHeart Radio.  Our downloadshow on iHeart is listed under the Health section and there are already 10 shows up for you to listen to by simply clicking here!   (Listen in and be sure to click on the heart!)  I will keep blogging on ‘The Purple Jacket’ as this spot is reserved for TLO and all of our friends and followers who have been supportive over WholeCareNetworkthe years.  Early in 2015, I will introduce a new website, Healing Ties which will feature information about the radio show while introducing you to the Whole Care Network.  The new site is still in the development process, but you can take a quick look at the new website by clicking here!  Your feedback and opinion on the new website is most appreciated!  Our new website will highlight the Whole Care Network  which will be a bevy of referrals and references to help you create Healing Ties in your life and in your community.

There are three eBooks in the works and one major book, about our caregiving story, ‘In Sickness and In Health: A Couple’s Final Journey’ is in the works, too. image004Early in 2015 you’ll see posting about group cruises for Caregivers, especially for those Caregivers who have lost a spouse or a partner.  It is time for us to come together in celebration, in care, in commitment and in love, to support and be there for each other. There are some other exciting opportunities that are presenting themselves as we move forward in 2015, I will be sure to keep you in the loop! It is going to be a busy year with workshops and presentations across the country: remember I am making a new year commitment,  not a new year resolution!

IMG_47020763026057 I do not have any fancy words or sage advice today, that’s never been our style here on The Purple Jacket; I simply write from the aspect of love, care and commitment which seems to fit just fine.  As I wash away 2014, I toast you, and thank you for being with us on this journey.  One thing this past year has taught me is to live in the moment: Funny TLO used to tell me that all the time!  So as we bring in the new year, I am thankful for the love that we shared, thankful for the life with TLO, and ready and willing to move forward, just as he wanted me to do.

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“I love the photo that includes your rear view mirror – you brought your past into the present last night.” Denise Brown from Aftergiving.com

I leave you with this wonderful quote  brought to you by my good friend, Denise Brown from Caregiving.com and Aftergiving.com ” I love the photo that includes your rear view mirror–you brought your past into the present last night.” I did not get the symbolism of this picture until Denise pointed it out to me, I am so thankful to Denise for her insight! Why? Because, I never want to forget about the past, yet life moves forward, not back.  Love is what shapes us: Love will never be washed away! 

Blessed and Happy New Year to you and your family! 

 

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Filed under Caregiver Stress, Healing, LGBT Caregiving, LGBT Couples

Going For A Ride on Christmas Eve


 Love is what makes the ride worthwhile.

 Holiday HugsOne of the many things that I have missed this holiday season is the rides TLO and  I took to see the beautiful Christmas lights up and down Ocean Drive in Palm Beach and Broward County, Florida.  Usually our drives were filled with lots of chatter, or gossip, depending  on your point of view.  Yet one thing that we did during these rides that I miss the most is simply holding hands.  There is so many ways to express love, yet there is nothing more basic, more real, than to hold hands.  That gentle touch which bringshands comfort in so many ways, is missing this holiday season.
Christmas eve was always our special night.  Whether our pocket books were flush or not, we always made that evening, our evening.  We would sit down and plan for weeks about what posh restaurant where we would make our reservation.  Yet no matter20111225-083458.jpg where we decided to have dinner on Christmas eve, we always made plans to end the evening with a drive down Ocean Drive to see the Christmas lights.  Of course a nice ice cream cone was in order too!
I have not taken a drive down Ocean Drive this holiday season.  Yet I think I am going to take that ride on Christmas eve as a way to remember…as a way to celebrate our life together, as a way to create my own Healing Ties, but most of all, I am going to take that ride just to be thankful  for having the experience of love and being loved.  Caregiving is over for us; but love endures forever and love does make the ride worthwhile.
To all who are grieving this holiday season, I wish you peace, comfort and lots of Holiday Hugs!

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Filed under After Caregiving, Healing Ties, LGBT Caregiving, LGBT Couples

Letting Go, Together As One


We loved with a love that is more than love ~ Edgar Allan Poe

As I pulled up to the boat dock on Tuesday, I was amazed at what a beautiful,  clear and sunny day it was in South Florida. At this time of year, especially in the height of hurricane season, one never knows what the weather might bring us. The boat caption’s words last week after I booked the reservation–“we will sail at 9:30 am, weather permitting–reminded me that even when we put our best plans in place, there are things beyond our control.   BoatWaves

Sure, we all know that we cannot control the weather, we can only work with it.  Yet for me, the plans to sail on Tuesday, September 9th was significant because Tuesday, September 9th was the six month anniversary of Richard’s life transition and it was time for us to let go, so that we could be together again as one.   I’ve never experienced a burial at sea, so I had no personal experience to go by, but I did know that what was important for both Richard and I, was to be set free from the perils of death and be free, free so that we can be together  again as one.

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On this beautiful sunny Tuesday morning, it was a small gathering of friends as we motored out into the Atlantic ocean.  Making the decision to bury Richard’s ashes at sea was something that we had both talked about, and something that I knew he approved of since he buried his first partner, Herman at sea in 1999.  The biodegradable boxes were a work of art; one blue with the (last) remains of Herman and one white with the  remains of Richard.  Yet even in those conversations about burial at sea,  you really don’t know if you can ‘do it’ until you get right to the point or rather, the day of ‘doing it.’

In a sense, I knew that placing Richard’s ashes at sea WAS my last act of Caregiving for him.   Sure, I had the option of the funeral home ‘doing it’ for me, but I knew deep inside my heart that this was my sole responsibility and something I wanted, and needed to do.  Then the conversation started on the boat.  “I understand that we have to be more than three miles from shore before the boxes can be placed in the ocean,” I said.  Then in unison, two of my friends said…”You’re going to just place his box in the ocean, he wants to be set free, just like you, let the ashes out of the box and set both of you free!”  “Hummm,” I thought…”Another Caregiving decision to make, and how I thought those decision were behind me!”

As the boat slowed down and then anchored, I knew that we had approached our destination and it was my turn to act.  I had no special words to say, yet I shared pictures of Herman and Richard and talked about their 43 years together as I placed Herman’s beautiful blue box in the ocean. Ocean 2 As I reached for Richard’s beautiful white box, I was still unsure of what I was going to do, then the box slightly opened, I could hear him speaking to me, “let me be free!”  After a few words, I took Richard’s box, and spread his ashes in the ocean and then watched as a beautiful array of colors gleamed at the top of the ocean as his ashes floated away on his eternal cruise.  As difficult as this was, as I watched his ashes float away, there was a sense of peace that came upon me that is difficult to explain.

As the box emptied of Richard’s ashes and then dropped into the ocean, the caption circled Richard’s starting point of his life-long cruise, where everyone placed  roses in the water,  and I thought about how happy he was because he was free.  It was at this point when I realized that I was free, too.

My last act of Caregiving for the one I continue to love, was to set him free, so that we both could be free.  BRScar2

You see, I did not mind being Richard’s caregiver, in fact I believe it is an honor to be a Caregiver, but for now and forever, I can go back to just being his partner, which is what I miss the most.  My faith tells me that I will see him again; my mind tells me that he is now forever free; my heart tells me that he 20120407-002416.jpgis right next to me.

For now, he is just a port ahead of me on his life-long cruise, catching up with family and friends, while speaking to me in different ways, because  I know that one day, I will arrive at his port and catch up with him on that life long cruise.  I’m sure he’ll have reserved a good cabin!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“In Sickness and In Health:” My Response to Florida’s Attorney General Pam Bondi comments on same-sex marriage


“Love, care and commitment is the same for any two people” – Chris MacLellan

Friends,

I’ve taken a break from blogging  in order to adjust to life without my partner, Bernard Richard Schiffer.  Your letters, emails, phone calls of support for me over the past few months is  most appreciated!

On Friday, May 30th I was alerted to the news that Florida’s Attorney General submitted a court document stating  that “same-sex marriages impose significant public harm.”  On Tuesday, June 3rd, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial page wrote, “State wrong in its fight against same-sex marriage” and referenced Richard and I, and our Caregiving story, “In Sickness and in Health A Couples Final Journey”.   In Wednesday’s Sun-Sentinel, Attorney General Pam Bondi responded to Tuesday’s editorial.

Upon reflection of these events, it is important for me to share a letter with you that I have mailed to Florida’s Attorney General, Pam Bondi in regards to her comments on same-sex marriage.

June 3, 2014

 The Honorable Pam Bondi

Attorney General of Florida

The Capitol PL-01

Tallahassee, FL 32399-1050

Dear Madam Attorney General:

I write this letter in the hopes of sharing a position contra to that identified in your recent court documents that recognizing same-sex marriages “would impose significant public harm.”

Maybe you heard about our story in the Sun-Sentinel a few weeks ago?  I’m told over 400,000 people have read our story, “In Sickness and Health A Couple’s Final Journey.”  As Diane Lade eloquently wrote, “being an older gay couple not recognized by law, navigating a system they feared could rob them of their ability to care for each other in sickness and in health.  After all, legal rights regarding death are intricately entwined with the privileges granted when people marry.”

We never intended that the love that my partner Bernard Richard Schiffer and I shared could become politicized, until I read your recent comments about how same-sex marriage “would impose significant public harm.’

I am fair-minded enough to know that each side has a right to argue your position in this fair state of Florida.  However to deny, ignore, wish away, pretend, assume and say that there are negative consequences in granting basic equal rights, indicates a fundamental disrespect  to gay rights and human dignity.  The arguments you use are the same for those who argued that ‘separate was equal’ and advocated for anti-miscegenation laws.    Like many before you who debated, and denied equality in our society, your current position on this critical issue will be sealed on the wrong side of history.

​I invite you to read our story in the Sun-Sentinel. In fact, I will even share the link with you: http://interactive.sun-sentinel.com/lgbt-dying-couple/.  You might also be interested in some of the readers’ comments that were posted on-line, too.  After reading our story, looking at the pictures and viewing the video, please tell me, the people in this great state of Florida, and everyone in the country,  how the love that Richard and I shared “would impose significant public harm?”

The late Maya Angelou said it right, “Love recognizes no barriers, it jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” Once someone understands that love, care and commitment is the same for any two people who are joined together as one, then it becomes obvious why marriage equality is such an important issue in our society.

My prayer for you is that you will see that love is universal and not unique or limited to heterosexuals.

Respectfully,

Christopher J. MacLellan

Deerfield Beach, FL 33441

 

 

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Filed under advocacy, Intergenerational, Legal, LGBT, LGBT Couples, LGBT Seniors