Love for Orlando

13392167_10154302538049337_3091589308810521108_oFirst and foremost, we are reeling in pain because of this hateful attack in Orlando. Despite recent advancements in LGBT rights, this shooting demonstrates just how much hatred and prejudice is still aimed toward our community. This tragedy also reflects the violence faced every day by LGBT individuals, especially by persons of color, even in spaces intended to reaffirm their expression. There is still much work to be done in furthering acceptance of LGBT identities.

There will be a New Orleans Memorial Vigil this evening at St. Anna’s Episcopal Church (1313 Esplanade Avenue) starting at 6:30 PM tonight. In Baton Rouge, there will be a Candlelight Vigil at the Mississippi River Levee at 6:00 PM near the intersection of River Road and Florida. In Alexandria, there will be a Unity, Solidarity and Remembrance Gathering at 7:00 PM at the Holocaust Memorial Statue. Tomorrow evening, a Candlelight Vigil will be held in Lafayette at 7:30 PM at the Parc Sans Souci.

Forum for Equality extends its sympathy to the families and friends of the 50 dead, 53 injured, and the nearly 200 more who lived through this horror at the Pulse Club in Orlando, Florida. Further, the Forum for Equality calls on anti-LGBT religious and political leaders to recognize that whenever they demonize or attempt to marginalize the LGBT community, they provide extremists with a green light to violence.

For decades, LGBT nightclubs and bars have been safe refuges for our community, which makes the Orlando shooting even more frightening for the LGBT community here in Louisiana, the U.S., and across the world.

We will continue to work toward inclusive policies that protect and embrace LGBT people, and we will strive to keep the focus of the ensuing dialogue surrounding the attack on amplifying our voices through political action.

Forum for Equality urges members of the LGBT community who are affected by this tragedy – both directly and indirectly – to speak to friends and loved ones and to seek help if needed:

Crisis Intervention Center help line (for Louisiana residents): 225-924-3900
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK

Equality Florida’s Donation Page to Support Victims and Recovery Efforts

With love,

SarahJane

SarahJane Brady
Executive Director
Forum For Equality
4035 Washington Ave
New Orleans, Louisiana 70125
504-569-9156

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Pride in Louisiana

Louisiana Rainbow HeartJune is LGBT Pride month. We are excited for the many events that are taking place around our state the next two weeks to celebrate our community. Join in on the fun!

Baton Rouge

Baton Rouge Pride – Saturday, June 11, 1:00 to 7:00 pm – Come to the Baton Rouge River Center Exhibition Hall for a full day of live entertainment, resource fair, raffles and more! For the first time, Governor John Bel Edwards issued a Proclamation declaring June 11th LGBT Pride Day in honor of the 10th Annual Baton Rouge Pride.

5th Annual Louisiana Equality March – Saturday, June 11, 7:00 pm – March from Baton Rouge Pride Fest at the River Center to our state Capitol for a rally on the steps!

New Orleans

Family Equality Day – Sunday, June 12, 10:00 am to 1:00 pm – Pack a picnic basket and join Longue Vue House and Gardens for its first Family Equality Day celebrating the LGBT parenting and family community. All guests will enjoy a performance by the New Orleans Gay Men’s Chorus and complimentary snowballs. Free with online RSVP.

Business Pride – Thursday, June 16, 5:30 to 8:00 pm – Another great networking event at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans. Join the Gulf South Chamber, our corporate sponsors, local LGBT businesses and professionals for food, drink, networking, and lots of fun!

24th Annual HRC Louisiana Dinner – Saturday, June 18, 6:00 pm – Join more than 500 LGBT people and straight allies at the 2016 HRC Louisiana Dinner in New Orleans. This year they will be honoring Arthur Roger with the 2016 HRC Louisiana Equality Award.
New Orleans Pride Weekend – June 17 through June 19 – New Orleans Pride Festival is composed of a weekend of events that are centered around the LGBT Community of New Orleans and its allies.

Shreveport

PACE Pride in the Park – Saturday, June 18, 11:00 am to 2:00 pm – The goal of Pride in the Park is to kick off a celebration of the vibrant LGBT community in Northwest Louisiana. It is free and open to the public with yoga, games, food, raffles, t-shirt contest, dog show competition and after-park parties around the community.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Protecting Trans Youth!

This past Friday, the US Department of Justice issued a policy letter on transgender students and school life. The guide addresses such topics as name and pronoun use, confidentiality, harassment, participation in sports and the application of dress codes. It is implemented in all K-12 schools, preschools, colleges and universities that receive federal funding.

There was immediate opposition here in Louisiana from many of the forces that stand arrayed against equality and justice for all. Transgender youth are already at a greater risk of experiencing bullying, harassment, and even violence in schools. And statements issued by BESE President Jim Garvey and the 32 Louisiana legislators exacerbates those risks by creating a hostile environment in one of the places they should feel the safest.

We appeal to the leaders and people of Louisiana to respect the equal dignity of all people, including those apart of our transgender community.

The truth is it is already illegal for anyone to go to a bathroom to harm someone or to invade their privacy. Transgender people face hostility, harassment and bullying as a result of baseless inflammatory allegations; these barriers explain in part the extraordinarily high attempted suicide rate.

Schools should be a safe space for students to learn. Instead of ostracizing or bullying students because of their differences, we should be providing a safe and nondiscriminatory environment for all students to reach their potential. The guidance from the Department of Justice will go a long way to making sure they can.

With Equality,

SarahJane

SarahJane Brady
Executive Director, Forum for Equality

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Success in the Senate!

In a vote of 2 to 1, the Senate Judiciary B committee voted to move the Louisiana Non-Discrimination Act forward. With this success today, we must and will continue to push forward.

Discrimination is not a Louisiana value and we are proud that the committee agrees that Louisiana law must forbid all forms of discrimination.

3a

Senator JP Morrell is a vanguard and champion for equality. We thank him for authoring the Louisiana Non-Discrimination Act, and appreciate his continued leadership on behalf of the LGBT community statewide.

Next up, the bill heads for a vote before the full Senate. Stay tuned, we will keep you updated!

With Equality,

SarahJane

SarahJane Brady
Executive Director, Forum for Equality

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Louisiana Non-Discrimination Act heads to Senate Committee!

The Louisiana Non-Discrimination Act, SB 332 authored by Sen. JP Morrell, will be heard at the Tuesday, May 10th hearing of the Senate Judiciary B Committee.

This comprehensive bill will help bring fairness to Louisiana statutes by:

  • Adding “age”, “sex” and/or “disability” to over 40 Louisiana non-discrimination statute provisions currently missing those terms from the lists of personal characteristics protected from unlawful discriminatory practices. Areas of protection include housing, higher education, income tax credits, real estate activities, insurance, and licensure of counselors, social workers, rehabilitation counselors, nurses and others.
  • Adding “sexual orientation” and “gender identity or expression” to the lists of personal characteristics protected from unlawful discriminatory practices in the fields of employment, housing, education, finance and public accommodations.

This bill doesn’t create ‘new’ law. Rather, it would make a large number of minor fixes to existing law to ensure fairness for all Louisianians.

We need you to send an email to the members of the Senate Judiciary B Committee asking for their yes vote.

With Equality,

SarahJane

SarahJane E. Brady
Executive Director, Forum for Equality

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Support the Louisiana Non-Discrimination Act!

We are almost halfway through the Louisiana legislative session. Forum for Equality is moving forward with the Louisiana Nondiscrimination Act (LANA). This bill, authored by Representative Patricia Smith and designated as HB501, will protect LGBT people living and working in Louisiana from discrimination in housing, employment, and accommodations.

Here’s what you need to know about LANA:

It updates over 60 existing nondiscrimination laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, as well as 40 existing laws to include age, sex and disability.

LANA doesn’t create any new laws. Rather, it would make a large number of small yet incredibly important updates to existing law. Additionally, LANA seeks to define “sexual orientation” and “gender identity or expression” for the first time within Louisiana law.

No hard working American should have to live in fear that they can be fired, evicted, or denied a seat at a restaurant because of who they are or whom they love. We know this is good for Louisiana, and you do too. Now let’s tell our legislators. Click here to send an email in support of LANA to the House Civil Law and Procedure Committee.
Yours in Equality,

SarahJane Brady
Executive Director, Forum for Equality

PS. Please send a strong message that you support Equality. Become a sustaining monthly donor today.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Amended

Over the past two days we have closely monitored several bills that affect our community and successfully supported amendments to limit their potential negative impact.

Last night Rep. Mike Johnson’s amended “Pastor Protection Act” (HB 597) was passed in the House of Representatives with language strictly limiting its scope to religious leaders and organizations only. Forum for Equality believes the Pastor Protection Act is an unnecessary and redundant bill and would only serve to stigmatize the LGBT community rather than actually provide new protections for religious leaders. But, as amended, the bill poses much less of a threat to our community’s rights. HB 597 now heads to the Senate with a vote of 80-18.

This evening, Sen. JP Morrell successfully offered an amendment to Sen. Conrad Appel’s “Preemption Bill” (SB 288) ensuring that the proposed local contracting restrictions will not affect or compromise any ordinance requiring a contractor to have policies related to discrimination. Forum for Equality remains dedicated to passing inclusive local ordinances, like those in New Orleans and Shreveport, which include policies mandating that taxpayer-funded contracts do not allow discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. SB 288 now heads to the House of Representatives with a vote of 26-11.

We continue to guard against any backdoor efforts to add discrimination into our laws. We ask you to continue working with us towards our goal of protecting and treating all Louisianans fairly, equally and with the legal dignity and respect they deserve.

With Equality,

SarahJane

SarahJane Brady
Executive Director, Forum for Equality

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment