Civic Engagement Legislature LGBTQA+ Nebraska Politics

Are Nebraska’s LGBT elders safe? On the huge elder care business founded by a Nebraska Family Alliance board member

The Nebraska Family Alliance (NFA) is a “pro-family” organization that has destroyed LGBT families across Nebraska. This presents a major problem for these Nebraskans as they age.

In the year 2000 the Nebraska Family Alliance spearheaded a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in Nebraska. In the same year, NFA lawyers fought a court battle against a lesbian couple who wanted to raise a child that one of the women had given birth to. The NFA won the court case, setting legal precedent that prohibited all adoption by unmarried Nebraska couples — the point being to target the gay couples who the NFA were preventing from marrying. The Nebraska Family Alliance fought marriage equality in Nebraska even after it was federally recognized by the Supreme Court. Adoption by same-sex couples did not become lawful in Nebraska until 2017.

Legally prevented from having a spouse or children, many aging LGBT Nebraskans are left without caregivers in their old age. Some are able to turn to extended families, but sadly many extended families have rejected their LGBT relatives. (Of course, the stigma that causes this rejection was created, in part, by the NFA’s decades of homophobic campaigning.)

Some older Nebraskans in need of care are able to turn to a chosen family of friends who have banded together to support each other. But such chosen families are usually made up of people of around the same age. Often, members of a chosen family cannot adequately care for the other members in old age because they require age-related care themselves.

As a result, many older LGBT Nebraskans lack family to care for them and are in need of professional caregivers. As it happens, Omaha is home to the largest in-home elder care business in the world: Home Instead Senior Care. This Omaha business has more than one thousand offices in twelve countries. Home Instead Senior Care commands a large share of the market for senior care throughout the US, particularly in its native Nebraska.

An Omaha woman named Lori Hogan co-founded Home Instead Senior Care with her husband in 1994. Today Mrs. Hogan sits on Home Instead’s board of directors. She is also a board member of the Nebraska Family Alliance.

This building on the UNMC campus is named after the organization founded and run by Lori Hogan, an advocate for anti-LGBT policies.

When LGBT Nebraskans lacking a family turn to professionals for elder care, they are very likely turning to Mrs. Hogan’s business. In doing so, they are turning to one of the very people who destroyed their chance to have a family in the first place. And they are probably unaware of it.

This suggests a troubling conflict of interests. Can someone in Mrs. Hogan’s position — someone who advocates against LGBT rights in government — be trusted to run a senior care business in such a way that LGBT Nebraskans are well cared for? Does Home Instead offer any transparency that could allay fears of mistreatment?

It may be that Lori Hogan does not run Home Instead Senior Care in a homophobic way. Maybe she creates homophobic policy in an NFA board meeting one day, and then she is able to totally set that aside in a Home Instead Senior Care board meeting the next day.

Or maybe not. Maybe Home Instead Senior Care’s LGBT clients are not at all adequately cared for, and they are unable to complain about it because they don’t even have family to listen to them.

Home Instead appears to have no discoverable guidelines or reports on how they protect this uniquely vulnerable population. Thus there is little information with which to judge how they might be treating LGBT seniors. But, the fact that Home Instead has a co-founder and board member who spends her free time advocating for homophobic government policy does not bode well.

Aside from the issue of how an elderly person can expect to be treated under Home Instead’s care, there is the simple indignity of placing a person under the care of someone who treats them with contempt. Because it is very common that board members donate to the non-profits that they govern, some portion of the money that an LGBT person pays to Home Instead for their own care likely ends up as a donation to the NFA. These Nebraskans unwittingly fund their own oppression and provide Lori Hogan a tax break for her “charitable” work blocking LGBT legal rights.

A business that cares for human beings owes Nebraska a lot more than this.