Louisiana, it is time to vote!

With the ongoing pandemic, we know our lives have changed radically between social distancing and health challenges. If it is safe for you, Forum for Equality PAC wants to encourage you to exercise your constitutional right to vote and continue to choose leaders committed to building a just and fair society.

Tomorrow, Saturday, July 11 is the Primary Election to vote for the Presidential candidate in your political party. There are also candidates for your political party’s local and state leadership, and several parishes have legislative, Mayoral and City Council or judicial races. The runoff election will be August 15, and Forum for Equality PAC will have recommendations for that election.

As we continue to celebrate the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic Bostock decision affirming the right to earn a living without fear of being fired for the sole reason of who we are or whom we love, we know there is still work to be done to build a more fair and equal State to call home. To achieve this objective, we must vote. To find your election information, please visit geauxvote.com.

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SCOTUS VICTORY: Virtual Town Hall this Thursday

Please join Forum for Equality and Louisiana Trans Advocates for a virtual Town Hall — VICTORY: The SCOTUS LGBTQ Civil Rights Ruling and What it Means for You — Thursday, June 18th at 6:00PM.

You can watch live on Forum for Equality’s Facebook page.

We will review the landmark Supreme Court 6-3 decision that firing someone for being LGBTQ is a violation of federal law. Join our speakers, Sen. Troy Carter, SarahJane Guidry, Mariah Moore, and Dylan Waguespack as we discuss the history of the case, the impact of the ruling and our next steps here in the Pelican State.

Our Speakers:

Sen. Troy Carter has enjoyed a distinguished career in virtually every level of local and state government. In 1991, Troy Carter became the first African-American to be elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives from the 102nd District. In 1994, Troy Carter was elected to the New Orleans City Council representing District C – once again, the first African-American to be elected to the position. He is a passionate champion for equality, and has been fighting for LGBTQ employment non-discrimination protections since he first introduced the bill at the Louisiana Legislature in 1993.

SarahJane Guidry has been at the helm of Forum for Equality as the Executive Director for the past ten years. Some of the highlights of her work include working to pass an inclusive non-discrimination ordinance in Shreveport, defeating anti-equality legislation, working on the lawsuit to bring marriage equality to Louisiana, and working on Gov. Edwards’s Executive Order banning discrimination of LGBT state employees and in state contracts.

Mariah Moore is the Organizing Program Associate for Transgender Law Center. Her work includes fighting to ensure equity, equality and safety for the transgender community, especially Black transgender women. Mariah has worked tirelessly in New Orleans to bring awareness to communities that have been adversely affected by laws and policies that are discriminatory.

Dylan Waguespack is the President of Louisiana Trans Advocates as well as True Colors United’s Public Policy and External Affairs Director. Hailing from New Orleans, Dylan has nearly a decade of experience in lobbying, nonprofit, public policy, and communications.

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LANDMARK RULING: Supreme Court for LGBTQ Protections

This is an important moment for legal equality. The Supreme Court has ruled in a 6-3 decision that companies don’t have a right to discriminate against LGBTQ people in the workplace. This historic decision says that LGBTQ people are protected from discrimination under federal law:

“The statute’s message for our cases is equally simple and momentous: An individual’s homosexuality or transgender status is not relevant to employment decisions.” Read the full decision here.

This landmark ruling is a watershed moment for fairness and equality. LGBTQ people work hard, serve in the military, and pay taxes. When it comes to being able to earn a living, having a place to live, or being served by a public business, they should be treated fairly and just like anyone else. The Supreme Court’s decision confirms that LGBT Louisianans are protected from discrimination at work.

But our work is not finished. Our nation has much to do to dismantle both legal and cultural systems of racism. Additionally, there are still critical gaps in our non-discrimination laws here in Louisiana for LGBTQ people despite this ruling. While LGBTQ people now have legal protection from discrimination at work, we still have a long way to go. Even after today’s decision, it will still be legal under the law:

    • For stores, restaurants and hotels to discriminate against LGBTQ people.
    • For federally funded programs, including hospitals, colleges, and adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ people.
    • To discriminate against just about anyone in a wide range of public accommodations ranging from retail stores to transportation services.

Today’s decision is an important step forward. It is a powerful reminder of how much work is left to do, and how critical that work remains. As we say, today we celebrate, tomorrow we get back to work!

Help us continue doing the hard work by making a donation today.

With Equality for All,

SarahJane

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Our Commitment To the Black Community

June is Pride month, which at its core commemorates a movement led by trans people of color rising up against a police force that routinely and violently persecuted members of the LGBTQ community. Pride arrives in 2020 as people have once again taken to the streets in response to the ongoing, tragic killings of Black people. Just this year, we have lost George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade and many others whose stories may never be told.

For the past thirty years, Forum for Equality has strived to advance the rights of historically marginalized communities throughout Louisiana by supporting progressive legislation and helping to elect Black officials. In the past few weeks we have faced the hard truth that our organization should have been doing more in pursuit of that mission.

Forum for Equality states loudly and proudly: Black Lives Matter.

As Forum for Equality stands in support of Black lives, we also take this time to reflect. To our Black volunteers, community partners, and former and current board members, we pledge to do better by centering racial equity and justice in our fight for LGBTQ equality.

However, words without action are merely performative, and action begins with our commitment to our own internal organizational reforms to develop an explicitly racially inclusive approach to organizing on behalf of the LGBTQ community. We vow to do the hard work that contributes to creating the “just society, free from discrimination” that lies at the center of our mission, and we are collectively determined to move from intention to action.

Immediately, we commit to:

  1. Centering and uplifting queer Black voices in both strategic and tactical planning
  2. Emphasizing to our staff and board members the importance of racial equity and intersectionality
  3. Implementing new processes of selecting individuals for leadership positions
  4. Auditing our internal practices to remove barriers that limit our ability to achieve a more equitable organization
  5. Developing inclusive programming and policy advocacy mechanisms to ensure community voices are incorporated into our policy and electoral decision-making.

As Louisiana’s statewide LGBTQ human rights organization, we pledge to do the work of showing up, listening, learning, and using our collective resources and voices to confront racial injustice in all its forms. To attain full equality for all LGBTQ people, we must be a truly multiracial movement that embraces the fact that dismantling systemic racism is inseparable from our mission.

We want to partner with you to fundamentally transform the corrupt and broken systems that perpetuate racial injustices in our State. We want to hear your thoughts, ideas, and recommended actions in response to the current events, and welcome your help addressing our past and embracing our future. Please reach out to our Executive Director, SarahJane Guidry, at sarahjane@forumforequality.org.

In Solidarity,

The Board of Directors and Staff of Forum for Equality

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500+ LGBTQ Organizations including Forum for Equality Unite to Combat Racial Violence

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” Those words, written over 30 years ago by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, remind us that indifference can never bridge the divide of hate. And, today, they should serve as a call to action to all of us, and to the Movement for LGBTQ equality.

This spring has been a stark and stinging reminder that racism, and its strategic objective, white supremacy, is as defining a characteristic of the American experience as those ideals upon which we claim to hold our democracy — justice, equality, liberty.  

  • We listened to the haunting pleas of George Floyd for the most basic of human needs — simply, breath — as a Minneapolis police officer kneeled with cruel indifference on his neck.
  • We felt the pain of Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend as he called 9-1-1 after plainclothes Louisville police kicked down the door of their home and shot her eight times as she slept in her bed.
  • We watched the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery by white vigilantes in Brunswick, GA, aware that they evaded the consequence of their actions until the video surfaced and sparked national outrage.
  • We saw the weaponizing of race by a white woman who pantomimed fear in calling the police on Christian Cooper, a Black gay man bird-watching in Central Park.
  • We have heard and read about the killings of transgender people — Black transgender women in particular — with such regularity, it is no exaggeration to describe it as a epidemic of violence. This year alone, we have lost at least 12 members of our community: Dustin Parker, Neulisa Luciano Ruiz, Yampi Méndez Arocho, Monika Diamond, Lexi, Johanna Metzger, Serena Angelique Velázquez Ramos, Layla Pelaez Sánchez, Penélope Díaz Ramírez, Nina Pop, Helle Jae O’Regan, and Tony McDade.

All of these incidents are stark reminders of why we must speak out when hate, violence, and systemic racism claim — too often with impunity — Black Lives.

The LGBTQ Movement’s work has earned significant victories in expanding the civil rights of LGBTQ people. But what good are civil rights without the freedom to enjoy them?

Many of our organizations have made progress in adopting intersectionality as a core value and have committed to be more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. But this moment requires that we go further — that we make explicit commitments to embrace anti-racism and end white supremacy, not as necessary corollaries to our mission, but as integral to the objective of full equality for LGBTQ people.

We, the undersigned, recognize we cannot remain neutral, nor will awareness substitute for action. The LGBTQ community knows about the work of resisting police brutality and violence. We celebrate June as Pride Month, because it commemorates, in part, our resisting police harassment and brutality at Stonewall in New York City, and earlier in California, when such violence was common and expected. We remember it as a breakthrough moment when we refused to accept humiliation and fear as the price of living fully, freely, and authentically.

We understand what it means to rise up and push back against a culture that tells us we are less than, that our lives don’t matter. Today, we join together again to say #BlackLivesMatter and commit ourselves to the action those words require.

See the full updated list of signers HERE

 

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Give where you live today!

Though we do not know what the coming months may hold, we do know that your support helps sustain us and keeps us moving forward during our current crisis.

With you at our side, we are able to continue to fight the good fight here in Louisiana. Today, please support Forum for Equality for GiveNOLA Day! Stand with us as we work to make our home a more fair and equitable place to love and live.

We hope you will give where you live for GiveNOLA Day at www.givenola.org/forumforequality.

Thank you for being there for Forum for Equality. With supporters like you, we will succeed in bringing full, lived equality to the Pelican State.

Best,

SarahJane Guidry
Forum for Equality, Executive Director
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WE ARE UNDER ATTACK!

The 2020 Louisiana Legislative Session begins in 11 days and the LGBTQ Community is ALREADY under attack. Yesterday, Senator Beth Mizell (R-Franklinton) filed a bill to ban trans students from playing school sports. LGBTQ children are now being targeted this Session!

How can you help? COME HEAR FROM LEGISLATORS ABOUT THIS SESSION AND HOW WE CAN DEFEND OURSELVES!

When: Wednesday, March 4, 2020, 6:30 – 8:00 PM

Where: The Home of Drs. Chris and Gay Winters, 4930 St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70115

Hateful bills are being filed by our opponents and this will be a tough session for the LGBTQ community. The Legislature has more Far Right Conservatives than ever before and may try to steamroll us with bad bills. It even appears that our enemies can override a veto from Governor John Bel Edwards.

WE NEED YOUR HELP TO STOP THEM! Join us on March 4 to learn how to support Forum for Equality’s efforts to defeat these bad bills and strengthen the State we love for all families!

Special thanks to Drs. Chris and Gay Winters and to our hosts:

  • Darrin Duplissey
  • Jeremy Epstein
  • Randy Evans
  • Jared Frank
  • Kate Geiss
  • Mary Griggs
  • Kelley Mackenroth
  • Ramsey Marcello
  • Ryan McNeely
  • Tracy Moore
  • Ileana Ortiz
  • Chris Otten
  • Kenny Oubre
  • Glenn Reames
  • Sebastain Rey
  • Ryan Rivers
  • Brandon Robb
  • David Robinson-Morris
  • Carlos Rodriguez
  • Sean Sullivan
  • Julie Thibodaux
  • Kenny Tucker
  • Mary Tucker
  • Joey Walker
  • Michelle Young

If you can’t make it on March 4, please visit our website to support us in our efforts to defeat anti-LGBTQ efforts in Louisiana.

We look forward to seeing you Wednesday night!

-Chris Otten, Past Chair, Forum for Equality Louisiana

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Give where you live, Louisiana

Today is #GivingTuesday! #GivingTuesday has become a global movement that celebrates and supports giving and philanthropy during the holiday season. How are you supporting Forum for Equality and our community on this global day of giving? We have so many ways that you can get involved and help give where you live!

  1. Make a donation that will support the work of making Louisiana a more fair and just place to call home! Give to our Facebook #GivingTuesday campaign or on our website to help us meet our $2,020 goal for 2020!
  2. Help spread the word about how people can participate in #GivingTuesday by supporting Forum for Equality. Forward this email to your friends and family and tell them about Forum for Equality and the communities you support.
  3. Stay updated on Forum for Equality news and events by liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter.

We know that equality begins at home. Who else besides us Louisianans are going to make this happen? We need each other, and Forum for Equality needs you this #GivingTuesday. WE cannot do this without you!

Forward Together,

SarahJane Guidry
Executive Director, Forum for Equality

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Be An Early Voter!

Even though Halloween is over, the future is still scary here in Louisiana with the upcoming run off election on November 16th. Today is the start of early voting, and Forum for Equality PAC has updated our endorsements. These endorsements reflect our organization’s mission of equality for all. Our mission, at its core, is simple: we believe LGBTQ Louisianans should be able to live freely in every parish across the Pelican State.

Be a part of that movement by supporting these candidates and help build a State of equality here in Louisiana. We highly encourage you to exercise your right to vote and to share these endorsements with your family, friends, and fellow football fans.

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Forum for Equality Endorses New Orleans Human Rights Commission Amendment

Forum for Equality was on the front lines in the early 1990’s to pass one of the first inclusive non-discrimination ordinances in the South, to protect New Orleans’ citizens from discrimination in employment, public accommodations and housing. It was the first of its kind to call for protecting people against discrimination based on sexual orientation and, when later expanded, to include gender identity protections.

Unfortunately, soon after the measure passed, a federal judge ruled that the City did not have the authority to enforce the ordinance. Therefore, the current Human Relations Commission cannot fully investigate or arbitrate discrimination claims, including those brought by members of the LGBTQ community.

Now, we have an opportunity to truly move New Orleans forward. On November 16, a proposed amendment to the City Charter will appear on the ballot to formally establish a new Human Rights Commission. This body will have the full backing of City government and the authority necessary to realize the vision of an inclusive and welcoming City.

The parish wide ballot measure – HRC Amendment – Art. V, Secs. 5-1101 through 5-1103 – CC, will read as follows:

Shall Article V of the Home Rule Charter of the City of New Orleans be amended to add Sections 5-1101 through 5-1103 thereto to create a local Human Rights Commission to safeguard all individuals in the City of New Orleans from discrimination and to exercise all powers, duties, and functions provided by applicable state and municipal law?

The Forum for Equality strongly recommends a YES vote on the proposed amendment.

We believe creating a Human Rights Commission under the Home Rule Charter is the right thing to do. As the Forum for Equality Executive Director Sarah Jane Guidry, said, “Giving the Human Rights Commission the power to investigate, mediate, and resolve discrimination claims will ensure that efforts to end discrimination are people-centered and efficient. The courtroom should be the last resort for seeking relief, and this initiative would create systems to resolve these cases before they escalate to that level.”

Voting yes will safeguard residents from discrimination and strengthen the City’s human rights laws – while also helping to prevent costly litigation.

Further information on this and other issues on the ballot can be found at the ActionNewOrleans page.

To learn more about the upcoming election, including information on early voting, go to GeauxVote.

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