Baton Rouge votes against Fairness Ordinance

Last month, business, faith and community leaders stood for equality in the packed chambers of the Baton Rouge Metro Council. They testified on the importance of inclusion, diversity and human dignity.

But despite those leaders’ efforts and overwhelming public support (62 percent in the Baton Rouge Area Foundation poll), the Metro Council rejected the proposed Baton Rouge Fairness Ordinance that would have protected the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in employment, housing and public accommodations.

Forum for Equality commends the great leadership and energy of the Baton Rouge Foundation for guiding such a noble and historic effort to bring equality to our state’s capital city. Forum for Equality stands with them and all those dedicated to moving Baton Rouge forward. As we have New Orleans, Shreveport and parishes across Louisiana, the Forum for Equality will continue focusing on protecting local LGBT communities and families.

Stand with us as we stand side by side with those creating a state of equality here in Louisiana, parish by parish.

Yours in Equality,

SarahJane Brady
Executive Director, Forum for Equality

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25 years and counting!

It has been twenty-five years… twenty-five years of advocating, educating and winning rights for the LGBT community. Since 1989, Forum for Equality has been a leader and champion in Louisiana.

We want to celebrate our 25th Anniversary with you at our Annual Acclaim Awards Gala on Friday, September 26th at the Westin New Orleans. As always, we will have an amazing evening with the hilarious Kristen Becker leading us through auctions, awards and amusements.

The Acclaim Awards Gala is our opportunity to recognize outstanding individuals and organizations that are leading the equality movement in many diverse areas here in Louisiana. We are honored to announce and acknowledge the 2014 Acclaim Award Winners:

Arts & Entertainment: Katey Red
Faith & Equality: St. Anna’s Episcopal Church
Legal Justice: Stone Pigman Walther Wittman, L.L.C.
Political Activism: Marilyn McConnell
Political Leadership: Shreveport Chamber of Commerce

This year we have a special offer: all “early birds” who purchase tickets and tables on or before August 31st will lock in last year’s prices! So please click over to purchase them now, and start planning for one of the best events of the year. If you want to become a table captain so that you and your friends can enjoy the evening together, email SarahJane Brady at sarahjane@forumforequality.org.

This year has been exceptional, and we get to celebrate our long history of change as well as the exciting projects we have planned for our future. Amazing actions are happening across Louisiana, and I am humbled to be a small part of this evolving story. Please join me on Friday, September 26th and revel in all that we have accomplished and will achieve in the future.

With Equality for All,

SarahJane Brady
Executive Director, Forum for Equality

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Do you shop on Amazon? Choose Forum for Equality Foundation as your charity of choice and they will donate .5% of your purchase back to us!
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Marriage Equality Lawsuit Update

roses red logo forumThis is a brief update on the status of our lawsuit.

As you have probably heard, Judge Feldman heard oral arguments yesterday in the marriage equality lawsuit we filed along with six other plaintiff couples, seeking to force Louisiana to recognize otherwise valid, out-of-state same-sex marriages. A seventh couple sued to force Louisiana to issue marriage licenses, but the court announced several months ago that it wanted to resolve the marriage recognition issue before getting into the marriage creation issue.

The arguments yesterday were excellent, and Judge Feldman asked pointed, carefully considered questions to both sides. We could not be happier with the level of preparation both of our legal team and of the court – it is always best to have a well-prepared judge, particularly when one is confident, as we are, of one’s legal correctness.

At the end of the arguments, as expected, the court announced that it would not issue a ruling immediately (it is very rare for a federal judge to “rule from the bench”). However, the Judge also announced that he wants to resolve all issues all at once, rather than issue multiple rulings. As such, he has requested that the parties submit some additional written arguments by July 16, 2014 addressing whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, as well as the First Amendment claim. You may recall that in our lawsuit, we argued that Louisiana, by forcing same-sex married couples to check “single” on state tax returns, is compelling couples to effectively lie and this violates their rights to free speech.

At this point, it is not clear whether there will be additional oral arguments in court, nor do we have a firm timeline for when a final decision will be rendered, though we would expect a ruling by the end of the summer or the beginning of fall.

We wanted to give you this update on our legal efforts to keep you all apprised of what your support has gotten you. We always strive to get you information as soon as we can, but our primary concern was in getting the right information out, as opposed to the early story. Rest assured that if you hear something from the media first, the reason for that is because our media team’s focus first and foremost is getting you the full, accurate picture.

We have always said this would be a long journey, and we stand by that; even after the court rules, there will doubtless be appeals, and as we saw yesterday with the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals tossing out Utah’s same-sex marriage ban (along with an Indiana district court), there are new legal developments almost every day. But thanks to your support, we will continue this fight however long it takes, and we will not stop until there is equality for all.

Yours in Equality,

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

Please consider investing in equality by joining Forum for Equality today! Follow this link to our secure donation page.

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An historical day on the road to marriage equality

Today, our long-awaited day in court came to pass. We cannot discuss today without thanking everyone involved in this process: our legal committee who worked tirelessly to refine our arguments; our plaintiffs who put themselves out in the public eye in the name of their personal dignity as well as the greater good; and our law firm, Stone Pigman Walther Wittman, who graciously offered to hold our hands on this journey.

Special thanks must be made to Dalton Courson, our lead counsel, who worked along side with Lesli Harris, John Landis, Brooke Tigchelaar and Maurine Wall, as well as countless others who assisted us on this road. With all of that being said, we are so happy and grateful we were able to have such a great argument.

Judge Feldman asked great questions of both sides, and we are as confident as ever in our legal position and the ultimate resolution of these issues in our favor. The journey isn’t over; it’s just begun. But we could not have gotten this far without everyone’s support. Thanking you for all you do.

We would love to celebrate with you this evening at The Rusty Nail located at 1100 Constance Street, New Orleans, Louisiana from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m.

With Equality,

SarahJane Brady
Executive Director, Forum for Equality

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Our day in court is tomorrow

roses red logo forum

Marriage is about loving, committed couples who want to make a lifelong promise to take care of each other, in good times and bad. Marriage is about the things we give – to the person we love, to our families, and to the people whose lives we share. Tomorrow morning we continue on the road to make marriage equality a reality in Louisiana.

Oral arguments by attorneys for Stone Pigman Walther Wittmann will be presented in US District Court in New Orleans before Judge Martin Feldman tomorrow morning. Forum for Equality Louisiana, together with six couples, challenged the state’s constitutional ban on recognizing same-sex marriages legally performed outside Louisiana. The plaintiffs are represented by Stone Pigman Walther Wittmann and Richard Perque.

The lawsuit charges that Louisiana’s refusal to recognize same-sex marriages violates the US constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process. Join Forum for Equality Louisiana and these brave couples as we embark on the hardest challenge we’ve ever taken on. We will be celebrating marriage equality with Courthouse Cocktails tomorrow at the Rusty Nail (1100 Constance St, New Orleans, LA 70130) from 5:30 to 8:00.

We have a big task to undo the constitutional ban here in the Pelican State. We can’t sit idly by and hope equality will trickle down some day. We are fighting for equality now.

From Shreveport to New Orleans, through the courts and legislature, stand with us as we work to fight against the unjust laws of this state.

With Equality for All,

SarahJane E. Brady

Executive Director, Forum for Equality Louisiana

PS. Help our efforts for #MarriageandMore with an investment of $10, $25, $50 or more!

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Forum for Equality Annual Membership Meeting

2014 Annual Membership Meeting

ELECTION OF BOARD MEMBERS

The Forum Governance Committee submits the following names for election to a two year term for the Board of Directors of FFE Louisiana. Additionally, you may nominate any other Forum member to serve on the board, including yourself. All nominations must be received by Friday, June 11 at 5pm. Contact SarahJane Brady with any questions and nominations at 504.569.9156 or sarahjane.brady@forumforequality.com.

NEW
Kelly Bryson
Hannah Gregory
Julie Thibodeaux
RETURNING
Marie Bolhmann
Mary Griggs (Chair)
Jimmy Farenholtz
John Hill
Kenny Tucker
Those listed above and anyone nominated will be voted on by the General Membership at the Annual Meeting on June 24.

Annual Membership is $40. Meeting open to all members with dues current as of June 24, 2014. Memberships must be paid prior to June 16th in order to vote in board elections. Contact SarahJane Brady with questions.

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