Get Out the Vote!

Today is the first day of early voting. Forum for Equality has endorsed Sen. Mary Landrieu for reelection as she is a strident supporter of equality. First and foremost, voting is the most important way to be involved this election. Click here for a complete list of the locations and designated early voting locations/dates/times.

Make no mistake, there are many ways to be involved and support Sen. Mary Landrieu.

Forum for Equality and HRC have partnered up to host an “I’m with Mary” debate watching party in New Orleans. Come out to the 700 Club on Monday, December 1st for a night debating fun, click over to find out more details.

If you are not able to join us in New Orleans, you can host your own watch party! We will send you a package of all the Mary supplies you will need – you can register here. Make sure you register before Tuesday, November 25th to get your package in time for the debate.

Want to volunteer to help the campaign? Contact HRC’s Regional Field Organizer working here in Louisiana, Ryan Wilson: ryan.wilson@hrc.org. There are volunteer opportunities with phone banking and canvassing on week nights and weekends.

Make a plan to vote, and tell your family and friends that you are with Mary!

With Equality,

SJB Signature

 

 

SarahJane Brady
Executive Director, Forum for Equality PAC

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Lambda Legal and Forum for Equality Ask U.S. Supreme Court to Review Louisiana Marriage Case

10818410_1493164544304343_2842969105071899042_o“The ruling from the lower court in this case is a time-warped reading of the Constitution and neglects developments in the law, including since the Supreme Court’s decision in Windsor”

Lambda Legal and the lawyers representing Forum for Equality Louisiana and seven same-sex Louisiana couples today asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review September’s U.S. District Court ruling upholding Louisiana’s discriminatory marriage ban. The groups are seeking U.S. Supreme Court review in advance of the hearing in the case, Robicheaux v. Caldwell, before the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals scheduled for January.

“The ruling from the lower court in this case is a time-warped reading of the Constitution and neglects developments in the law, including since the Supreme Court’s decision in Windsor,” said Lambda Legal Senior Counsel Kenneth D. Upton, Jr. “We have seen a blizzard of well-reasoned rulings in recent months holding similarly discriminatory bans unconstitutional, including rulings out of the Fourth, Seventh, Ninth and Tenth Circuits Courts of Appeal. We are asking for the Supreme Court’s review now while it is considering the Sixth Circuit decision because together these cases present the full gamut of aberrant arguments supporting these discriminatory bans, and, in Louisiana specifically, present in one state a case covering both the right of same-sex couples to marry, and for legally married same-sex couples to have those marriages recognized.

“The longer same-sex couples are forced to live in a country divided by where their families are respected and where they aren’t the more apparent the injustice will become—and that clarity will come at a price for thousands of families,” Upton said.

Forum for Equality Louisiana Executive Director SarahJane Brady said that, since the Supreme Court’s Windsor ruling last summer, “Dozens of federal courts have been nearly unanimous: these hateful, politically motivated marriage bans have no place in our country – and they will soon end up in the dustbin of history where they belong. After the Sixth Circuit’s ruling upholding state bans on same sex marriages, we determined there is too much at stake in Louisiana and other states without marriage equality to wait on the appeals process to play out, potentially delaying justice for same-sex couples.”

Today’s filing is called a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari before Judgment and, while not all that common, can be granted upon a showing that the case is of such imperative public importance as to justify bypassing the normal appeals process in the Circuit Court of Appeal. Early last month, Lambda Legal joined the legal team representing a total of seven Louisiana same-sex couples and the Forum for Equality Louisiana, the state’s LGBT rights organization, in their appeal to the 5th Circuit Court of U.S. District Court Judge Martin Feldman’s September ruling upholding Louisiana’s discriminatory marriage ban. The case going up on appeal involves consolidated lawsuits filed in the past year: Robicheaux v. Caldwell, Robicheaux v. George and Forum for Equality Louisiana, Inc. v. Barfield.

The plaintiffs in the combined appeal are:

Jonathan Robicheaux and Derek Penton of New Orleans, together since 2005 and married in Iowa in 2012; and Courtney and Nadine Blanchard of Lafourche Parish, married in Iowa in 2013 and raising a son together (represented by New Orleans attorney Richard G. Perque);

Robert Welles and Garth Beauregard of New Orleans, together for 24 years (represented by New Orleans attorney Scott J. Spivey of Landry & Spivey);

Forum for Equality Louisiana, the Louisiana statewide LGBT advocacy organization founded in 1989; Jacqueline and Lauren Brettner of New Orleans, together since 2011, married in New York in 2012 and the parents of a baby girl born in 2013; Henry Lambert and Carey Bond of New Orleans, together since 1974 and married in New York in 2011; Andrew Bond and Nicholas Van Sickels of New Orleans, together since 2003, married in the District of Columbia in 2013 and the parents of a daughter; and L. Havard Scott and Sergio March Prieto of Shreveport, together since 1997 and married in Vermont in 2010 (represented by J. Dalton Courson, Lesli D. Harris, John Landis, Brooke Tigchelaar and Maurine Wall of the New Orleans firm Stone Pigman Walther Wittmann LLC).

The legal team includes, from Lambda Legal: Kenneth Upton, Susan Sommer, Camilla Taylor, Karen Loewy, Paul Castillo and Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, as co-counsel with J. Dalton Courson and Lesli D. Harris and their team at Stone Pigman Walther Wittmann LLC; Scott J. Spivey of Landry & Spivey; and Richard G. Perque.

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Press contact: Tom Warnke (Lambda Legal)), Cell: 213-841-4503: Email: twarnke@lambdalegal.org
John Hill, (FFELouisiana), 504-756-0101: Email: talktojhill@aol.com

Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.

Forum for Equality Louisiana is Louisiana’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) human rights organization dedicated to the establishment of a society free from discrimination and to the support of good government.

Here is a link to the petition filed with the Supreme Court: http://www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/legal-docs/robicheaux_la_20141120_petition-for-certoriari

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Transgender Day of Rembrance 2014

Today, we mark Transgender Day of Remembrance and recall those people killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. Over the last decade, more than one person per month has died around the world due to violence based on bias against transgendered people.

We gather publicly on this day to mourn and honor the lives of transgender people who might otherwise be forgotten. Too often, their killers, law enforcement, and the media seek to erase their existence. For a listing of the victims of anti-transgender bias for 2014, click here.

Across Louisiana, there are events in to memorialize the day with vigils and services. Here are the ones being put on by Louisiana Trans Advocates:

10647231_1492783591009105_4142690412247719115_nRest in power.

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How do Louisiana cities measure up?

MEI mapToday the Human Rights Campaign released their third annual Municipal Equality Index and highlights four metro areas in Louisiana: Baton Rouge, Jefferson Parish, New Orleans and Shreveport. I appreciate the diligent work, time and energy that HRC put into creating this great tool for cities across the country.

When the MEI was first issued in 2012, Baton Rouge and Shreveport barely ranked in the double digits. With our effort to expand protections in the past year, from the inclusion of gender identity in Baton Rouge’s city employee protections to partnering with PACE on the Shreveport Fairness Ordinance, we have seen a marked impact in these two cities. It is truly uplifting to see that over time, the hard work that Forum for Equality and organizations like PACE have done across Louisiana is producing tangible progress at the local level.

In the new HRC report, we also have our first glance into Jefferson Parish and the results of our effort to expand parish employment protections to include sexual orientation and gender identity. And that’s only the beginning, so stay tuned!

While New Orleans receives a high score of 83 on the MEI, this latest report also highlights areas that need improvement. Additionally, there are issues that the MEI does not address that many people in our community encounter every day, especially members of the transgender community and people of color. These issues are highlighted in two recently issued reports by the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center and BreakOUT. Many times, New Orleans is touted as the bastion of equality, but there is still work to be done, and we will continue to work with the people of our great city to make it a reality.

While we recognize the progress that we have made and celebrate our victories, we are keenly aware of the gaps, limited protections and absence of basic human rights all across our state. That is why we continue to work with our coalition partners, municipal governments, legislature and within the courts to bring full-lived equality to all Louisianans. Please continue to stand with Forum for Equality by making a gift of the heart today and supporting our work to make Louisiana a state of equality.

Yours in Equality,
SJB Signature
SarahJane Brady
Execuitve Director, Forum for Equality

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Love is still appealing!

With an unfortunate ruling today, Louisiana now is not the only state where a federal court has allowed the government to discriminate against same-sex couples and families.

That’s because the US 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld marriage bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee.

This flies in the face of over 40 court decisions across the country since the US Supreme Court overturned DOMA last summer. We remain confident – as we always have – that the Supreme Court will soon be on the right side of history.

Thursday’s ruling comes as Forum for Equality and our fellow plaintiffs prepare for oral arguments before the US 5th Circuit Court of Appeals this January to bring marriage equality to Louisiana after a federal judge ruled that the state can discriminate against same-sex couples and families. Marriage is an essential right that is a part of the full equality that we fight for as an organization and is severely lacking in our state today.

Help us continue to build a state of equality here in Louisiana, from parish to parish and to the 5th Circuit! Make a gift of the heart to make full equality a reality in the Pelican state.

Yours in Equality,

SarahJane E. Brady
Executive Director, Forum for Equality

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We Must Show Up!

Forum For Equality:

Blog post by Forum for Equality Louisiana Chair, Mary Griggs:

Originally posted on Mary Griggs:

skip voting surrenderOnly 46% of eligible voters in New Orleans voted in this past election. Less than half.

Louisiana as whole did a little better with 50.1% of voters doing so.

That compares to 69% of the electorate that voted in 2012 and 67% who voted the last time Mary Landrieu was on the ticket, back in 2008.

In 2008, voters under age 44 made up 48 percent of the electorate. This year, that same group accounted for only 34 percent of the electorate. Voters between the age of 18 and 22 were largely absent – only 12% of them voted in this election. That is down 10 percentage points from 2008!

Voting on December 6th is incredibly important – only a few votes per precinct will decide the Senate election.

Early voting begins on November 22 and run through Saturday, November 29th. There is no voting on Sunday in Louisiana —…

View original 166 more words

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FFE Endorsements for November 4th Election

forum new logoAt the Forum for Equality PAC membership endorsement meeting, our members voted to make the following endorsement in the upcoming November 4th elections in Orleans Parish. Candidates are evaluated on their past performance and answers regarding issues of importance to our members including the economy, employment discrimination, good government, adoption, education, safe schools, marriage equality, health, and crime. Please support and vote for the following candidates.

For information on voting locations and election ballots, please visit the Secretary of State website for upcoming election information.

Louisiana U.S. Senate:

Sen. Mary Landrieu

U.S. Representative 2nd Congressional District:

Rep. Cedric Richmond

Orleans Parish Judicial Endorsements:

Judge Civil District Court, Domestic Section 1 – Judge Bernadette D’Souza
Judge Civil District Court, Domestic Section 2 – Janet Ahern
Judge Civil District Court, Division D – Nakisha Ervin-Knott
Judge Civil District Court, Division F – Judge Chris Bruno
Judge Criminal District Court, Division D – Graham Bosworth
Judge Criminal District Court, Division G – Byron Williams
Judge Juvenile Court, Section E – Dual Endorsement: Niki Roberts and Cynthia Samuels

Forum for Equality PAC was founded in 1989 and is dedicated to good government and equal rights for all in Louisiana.

Early voting information here. Oct. 21-28, 2014 is the early voting period for the Nov. 4, 2014 primary (except Sunday).

To vote early in Orleans, the following locations are available:

City Hall
1300 Perdido St., Room #1W23
New Orleans, LA 70112

Algiers Office (Courthouse)
225 Morgan St., Room #105
New Orleans, LA 70114
504.658.8323

Voting Machine Warehouse
8870 Chef Menteur Highway
New Orleans, LA 70127
504.658.8300

Lake Vista Community Center
6500 Spanish Fort Blvd
2nd Floor Meeting Room
New Orleans, LA 70124
504.658.8300

Every Vote Counts!

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