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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Forum for Equality PAC Meeting

Forum for Equality PAC will be considering endorsements in the upcoming congressional, legislative, judicial and district attorney elections.

The PAC meeting will be Thursday, October 9th, at 6:00pm at Forum for Equality office located at 336 Lafayette Street, Suite 200, New Orleans, LA 70130.

For our endorsements to be representative of our members, we need you to be a participatory voice. Forum for Equality PAC is one of few statewide LGBT organizations that has open endorsement meetings, and we welcome our members to be actively engaged in the process with us.

All current members of Forum for Equality Louisiana residing in Louisiana are eligible to vote. Please contact the Forum office for a proxy form, which can be used for those who qualify to vote but are unable to attend. If you are not certain of your membership status, please contact the Forum for Equality office as well.

Forum for Equality Contact Information:
SarahJane E. Brady, Executive Director
sarahjane@forumforequality.org

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Lambda Legal Joins Appeal of Louisiana Marriage Ruling to 5th Circuit

lambda legal logoforum new logo“Only one federal court since Windsor has concluded on the merits that the Constitution permits the government to exclude same-sex couples and their children from marriage. We are proud to join a strong legal team appealing this decision to secure equal dignity and respect for all Louisiana families.”

(New Orleans, La, — October 7, 2014) – Lambda Legal is joining 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 U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals of last month’s U.S. District Court ruling upholding Louisiana’s discriminatory marriage ban.

“Only one federal court since Windsor has concluded on the merits that the Constitution permits the government to exclude same-sex couples and their children from marriage. We are proud to join a strong legal team appealing this decision to secure equal dignity and respect for all Louisiana families,” said Lambda Legal Senior Counsel Kenneth D. Upton, Jr. “After dozens of well-reasoned state and federal district and appellate court rulings have come down over the past year striking down similar discriminatory bans nationwide, it is deeply distressing that the district court here came to a different conclusion. We look forward to working with co-counsel and these brave plaintiffs to overturn this decision on appeal.”

“We are delighted to have Lambda Legal join us in this effort,” said SarahJane Brady, executive director, Forum for Equality Louisiana. “Forum for Equality Louisiana and Lambda Legal have a long and successful history of working together, and we are delighted to have them as co-counsel on our case.”

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. U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman issued his ruling upholding Louisiana’s marriage ban in a combined decision known as Robicheaux v, Caldwell, in early September.

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).

Said Andrew Bond, who although married to his partner, Dr. Nick Van Sickels, has no legal rights to their daughter, as Nick is the sole name on her birth certificate: “The district court judge’s ruling reminded me how much we have left to fight for. To think my identity as my child’s father remains something I must place an asterisk next to is demeaning and painful to accept. I love and support her just as any parent loves and supports their children, yet I continue to lack any state recognition of that fact. This ruling certainly did not calm my constant fears concerning my lack of legal standing as her parent, but it did clarify exactly who and what I am fighting for.”

The legal team now also includes, from Lambda Legal: Kenneth Upton, Susan Sommer, Camilla Taylor, 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.

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One Step Closer To Marriage

love conquers allWhat a sensational way to begin our week with breaking news from the Supreme Court of the United States rejecting appeals from five state seeking to prohibit marriage equality. Today’s order by the Supreme Court denying the appeals from the Tenth, Fourth, and Seventh Circuit is a huge victory for families in those states. However, Louisiana’s marriage ban remains in place and the Forum for Equality will continue fighting until it too enters the dustbin of history, where it belongs.

Please support us as we continue to fight for marriage equality in Forum for Equality Louisiana vs. Barfield, in addition to all of the other work we are engaged in throughout the state. Making a gift of the heart in any size allows us to move Louisiana forward to be a better, more equal state.

Love is appealing in Louisiana. Stand with us and all the loving couples and families that are seeking the same equal protection and recognition afforded to them under the law.

With Equality for All,

Chris Otten
Chair-Elect and Legal Committee Chairman, Forum for Equality Louisiana

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Forum for Equality Louisiana Applaudes Lafayette Decision

The Forum for Equality Louisiana congratulates Lafayette Judge Edward Rubin’s decision overturning Louisiana’s constitutional and statutory discrimination against the rights of same-sex couples.

“We think the decision is the correct one,” said Lesli Harris of the New Orleans law firm of Stone Pigman that represents Forum for Equality Louisiana’s separate lawsuit brought in federal court and now being appealed after an adverse decision by US District Judge Martin Feldman on many of the same issues.

Harris specifically cited the decision’s reliance on the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution, which are also at issue in Forum for Equality Louisiana’s appeal that could move quickly before the 5th Circuit US Court of Appeals.

“We also think it properly relied upon the civil rights cases such as Loving v. Virginia,” Harris said. In the Loving case, the US Supreme Court in 1967 overturned laws prohibiting interracial marriages.

Judge Rubin, who is an African-American, made a lengthy comparison of Louisiana’s discriminatory laws against the lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender community to the state’s now moot interracial prohibitions and Jim Crow laws that segregated blacks and whites. The case was brought by plaintiffs Angela Costanza and Chastity Brewer, who were married in California and sought recognition of adoption and tax rights in Louisiana, where they reside.

“Lest we forget, there was a time in America’s history when gays and lesbians were not permitted to even associate in public. Many in this country held a deep seated hatred for the lifestyle of gays, lesbians, bisexuals etc., and with that hatred carried numerous arrests and imprisonment for those who chose a different lifestyle than what was ‘traditionally’ recognized,” Rubin wrote. “We are past that now, but when it comes to marriage between persons of the same sex, the nation is moving towards acceptance that years ago would have never been contemplated.”

“There are those who might argue that gays and lesbians can be treated differently, and yet be considered to be equal to the rest of Americans,” Rubin wrote, citing the 1896 Louisiana case, Plessy v. Ferguson. “Plessy stood for the proposition that there could be separate but equal treatment of the two races. Fortunately for this country, the US Supreme Court was presented with (Brown v. the Board of Education), which overruled any doctrine that held separate but equal,” Rubin wrote.

Rubin went on to cite court rulings that overturned bans on racially-mixed marriages, including the US Supreme Court decision, Loving v. Virginia.

“The court does not believe that the historical background of Loving is so different from the historical background underlying states’ bans on same-sex marriage,” Rubin wrote. “One cannot look at Loving without recognizing that it was about racism as well as a couple’s decision to assert their right to choose whom to marry.”

Mary Griggs, chair of Forum for Equality Louisiana, expressed confidence that Forum will be able to overturn U.S. Judge Feldman’s ruling, which is only one of some 30 court rulings that extend civil rights to the LGBT community. “We don’t want special rights,” Griggs said. “We want equal rights under the law. That’s all.”

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Breaking News!

We have just received breaking news that a state court judge in Lafayette Parish has ruled that Louisiana’s same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional. We applaud the judge for correctly deciding this issue for Louisiana families, and we will update you as more details are released.

http://www.theind.com/news/indreporter/18990-go-ahead-ed-make-my-day

On Monday State District Judge Ed Rubin ruled that the state’s law banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional because it violates the due process clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment and the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution.

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A Decade of Discrimination in Louisiana

Ten years ago this week, as Lousianans hunkered down in anticipation of Hurricane Ivan, lesbians and gays geared up for a storm that could do lasting damage to our community.

For it was on September 18, 2004, that Constitutional Amendment One was passed by voters. It stated, “Marriage in the state of Louisiana shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman.”

Across America that election year, marriage equality was a hot-button topic wielded by fervent opponents as a wedge issue to drive voters to the polls. In February 2004, President George W. Bush called on Congress to pass a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage to protect “the most fundamental institution of civilization.”

On September 18, only 27.5% of state voters cast ballots but the majority voted to enshrine discrimination in our state’s constitution.

Fortunately that week, Hurricane Ivan brushed Louisiana with minimal effects. But the storm of controversy over marriage equality left an ugly stain on the state that remains to this day.

Earlier this month, US District Judge Martin Feldman in New Orleans ruled against Forum for Equality Louisiana in its lawsuit seeking marriage rights for same-sex couples, writing that a person’s sexual orientation was one of several “lifestyle choices.” The ruling flies in the face of same-sex marriage victories in more than 20+courts over the past year.

Forum for Equality has begun the process to appeal that ruling. We need your help to continue the expensive and time-consuming legal fight for the rights you deserve. By joining us and making your donation, you can help ensure that Louisiana LGBT rights group will battle opposition at every corner.

With Equality for All,

John Denison
Chair, Forum for Equality Foundation

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