Forum for Equality’s Disco Masquerade


Join us for our annual Mardi Gras Masquerade and boogie the night away!
When: Thursday, January 28 at 6 PM – 9 PM
Where: Propeller: A Force for Social Innovation, 4035 Washington Ave, New Orleans

Enjoy delicious food from Louisiana Pizza Kitchen as well as scrumputious sweet and savory king cakes like chocolate chip marscarpone and crawfish with goat cheese! Then top that off with an open bar!

Carnival attire suggested, but not required.

Suggested Membership Donation: $40
Facebook event page: click here

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On Thanksgiving we reflect on what we are most thankful for this year. We are thankful for you – you sustain and encourage us throughout the year. Forum for Equality would not be the organization it is today without your dedication, and for that we are truly grateful.

Please click here if you’d like to help Forum for Equality continue fighting the good fight here in Louisiana. Thank you for making a difference!

I hope that you have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

Together for Louisiana,
SarahJane Brady
Executive Director, Forum for Equality

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Not One More

Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance. Today we remember the trans folks we have lost to anti trans violence. Their lives mattered. We must say their names.



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Running for Rights!

The work we do wouldn’t be possible without all of your support – that includes both the LGBT members of our community as well as our straight allies. Today I write to you with pride about one of the greatest allies I know. My cousin, Steve Otten, will be running the 40th Annual Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. this Sunday, October 25, 2015. Just qualifying for this race is an accomplishment; however, he is running to benefit the Forum for Equality, and in this capacity, he has already raised more than $1,000.00 for the work that we do.

The Marathon consists of a 26.2 mile run through Washington, DC which Steve thought would be the perfect backdrop for our historic marriage equality victory. This is not his first time running this Marathon, and his continued efforts remind me of the importance to keep our focus on the road ahead. We rightly celebrate, but we also remember we have much work left to do. If you have trouble reading the sign he’s holding, it says “Today I ran for love – what did you do today?”

steve runs for loveI am so fortunate to have someone like Steve in my family – will you please join me in investing in equality today in honor of his race on Sunday? Whether $10, $50, or any sum you feel comfortable donating, every bit will help inspire him to cross the finish line. Because if Steve wrote this email, I know he would ask “What did you do for love today?”

Yours in Equality,

Signature Chris Otten



Chris Otten
Chair, Forum for Equality Louisiana

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Rabbi Berk at 2015 Acclaim Awards

Matt Davis, Forum for Equality Foundation Board Member and Co-Chair of the Acclaim Awards Committee, gave the introduction for the Acclaim Award winner for Faith and Equality:

Rabbi Alexis Berk accepted the position of Rabbi of Touro Synagogue in the summer of 2008. Since then, Rabbi Berk has been a leading voice in the New Orleans area for human rights and social justice for all people.

Rabbi Berk has cultivated a welcoming and inclusive community at Touro Synagogue, demonstrating that the religious community and the LGBTQ community can exist in harmonious unity.

Under Rabbi Berk’s leadership, Touro Synagogue hosts an LGBTQ and allies group. Membership forms have been updated to include people of all genders and same-sex couples. The synagogue also established an all-gender bathroom, and participates in the New Orleans Pride and NO/AIDS walks.

An award-winning orator, Rabbi Berk has spoken eloquently about many social justice issues, ranging from war abroad, to mental illness, to feminism, to the acceptance of mixed-faith families. This year Rabbi Berk included a call for empathy for trans people in her Yom Kippur speech. On Yom Kippur in 2012, Rabbi Berk spoke powerfully from the pulpit in favor of marriage equality. Anyone who was there remembers the electric effect Rabbi Berk’s words had. When I mentioned that speech to my dad earlier this week, it moved him to tears. Rabbi Berk is that effective and strong an advocate.

As a lifelong member of Touro Synagogue, I am proud to have such an astonishing and progressive rabbi at the congregation’s helm, who uses her pulpit to address topics that are sometimes uncomfortable but always important and just.

Rabbi Berk, I am honored to present you with your Acclaim Award for Faith and Equality. Please come to the stage!

I profess the religion of love,
Love is my religion and my faith…
My prophet is love
My God is love…
I have come only to speak of love.
So said Rumi, the 13th century Sufi mystic and poet.

To me, tonight’s celebration is all about love.

When I was 17, I met my spouse, Bob Berk who taught me everything I know about love.

When my checking account in college got stuck for too long at zero, and I panicked – he took me out to a fancy dinner – and then bought me groceries. Bob taught me that night, for only the first of many times, that love is generous and patient and imperfect and messy and funny and enduring. I hoped to marry him, as many dream about their beloveds – because every human soul deserves to be known and cherished and nourished by another. Every one needs and merits this kind of devotion.

When I was 37, I met Touro Synagogue, which taught me everything I know about being a rabbi. This community is filled with infinitely talented and loving individuals, and yet the whole still manages to be greater than the sum of the parts. They also took me out to a fancy dinner. This may be a pattern. At Touro Synagogue, every dream is met with ambitious energy; every idea is met with respect and inquiry; every challenge is met with rolled up sleeves and unrelenting commitment. I have great love and affection for our professional team, and all of you. Thank you all so much for coming tonight; you always show up. Because you have created Touro Synagogue to be a place where a human soul can be known and cherished and nourished by another. Everyone needs and merits this kind of devotion.

So, I’d like to thank the Forum for Equality for this fancy dinner. I’m hooked. For me, this award is about love. Universal love for humanity – a love that requires constant tending and mending. A love that extends the basic rights and concomitant sacred struggles to everyone. And, I celebrate and deeply appreciate the implied and explicit pledge from everyone in this room to secure a world where any and every human soul can be known cherished and nourished by another. Everyone needs and merits this devotion.

Thank you so much for this.


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2015 Acclaim Award for Political Activism to BreakOUT

2015 Acclaim Awards!

Mary Griggs

Forum for Equality’s 17th Annual Acclaim Awards Gala was held at the Westin New Orleans on Saturday, September 26th. I was the presenter of the Political Activism award. Here is my speech and Milan’s acceptance speech.

Photo by Willow's World Photo Photo by Willow’s World Photo

My name is Mary Griggs and I am the immediate past Chair for Forum for Equality Louisiana. I am proud to present this year’s Acclaim Award for Political Activism to BreakOUT!

BreakOUT! was founded in 2011 by a small group of LGBTQ youth of color in response to discriminatory policing in New Orleans. BreakOUT! has since grown to a powerful youth-led, membership-based organization of queer and trans youth directly impacted by the justice system. BreakOUT! works to end the criminalization of LGBTQ youth by confronting unfairness in the legal system, youth homelessness, school push-out, and other issues.

When Penny Proud, a trans New Orleanian, was murdered this…

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Cheers, Judge Brown!

buy tickets acclaimJudge Paula Brown will be awarded the Acclaim Award for Leadership tomorrow evening. She was elected to Civil District Court for Orleans Parish in 2010. A native of Oceans Springs, Mississippi, Judge Brown attended the A.B. Freeman School of Business at Tulane University on a basketball scholarship. She went on to receive her Juris Doctorate from Southern University Law Center. Prior to her current position, Judge Brown served as Judge Pro Tempore, Civil District Court, Division “M”. She was a 2005 recipient of the CityBusiness Leadership in Law Award.

Judge Brown is an active member of many legal and community service organizations. As a breast cancer survivor, she passionately promotes Breast Cancer Awareness with the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, New Orleans Affiliate. She is a member of 100 Black Women, New Orleans Chapter, and participates in the Tulane University Women’s Basketball Mentorship Program.

This past June, despite some initial hiccups in our state’s implementation of the Supreme Court marriage decision, Judge Brown showed what leadership truly means. She assured same-sex couples that they would enjoy the same respect and dignity in her courtroom as all other couples. She became the first judge in Louisiana to conduct a lawful marriage between two loving individuals of the same sex. Please join us in celebrating her leadership tomorrow evening, along with the first same-sex couple to legally marry in this state!

With Equality,
SarahJane E. Brady

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