Early Bird gets the Discount!

There are six days left to purchase your early bird tickets to the Acclaim Awards on Saturday, September 26. Discounted tickets are available through Monday, August 31.

Buy your tickets here: http://bit.ly/acclaimawards2015

Join us for one of the best events of the year, hosted by historian and journalist Robert Mann, and featuring a musical performance by the folk-pop duo Alexis and the Samurai! As we come to together for auctions and accolades, we will enjoy delicious food, an open bar, and good friends. Buy your tickets today!

acclaim invite 2015

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Save the Date: 2015 Acclaim Awards!

save the date acclaim awards 2015We hope you will join us at the Forum for Equality’s 17th Annual Acclaim Awards Gala at the Westin New Orleans on Saturday, September 26th, a night where we will celebrate and honor those that are building a state of equality here in Louisiana. Purchase your discounted Early Bird tickets until Monday, August 31st here!

2015 Acclaim Award Winners:

Faith and Equality: Rabbi Alexis Berk

Leadership: Judge Paula Brown

Legal: Doug Hallward-Driemeier

Political Advocacy: BreakOUT!

We will open the night with a champagne reception for our Patrons at 5:00PM. The cocktail reception and silent auction will follow at 6:00PM, which will lead us into our amazing awards ceremony and seated dinner beginning at 7:30PM. The open bar will flow all night. We will enjoy the witty repartee of our Master of Ceremonies, journalist and political historian, Bob Mann, as well as a musical performance by the phenomenal folk/pop duo Alexis and the Samurai.

Do you and your friends want to enjoy the dinner together? If so, sign up to be a Table Captain where 10 of you can share a table! All Table Captains are invited to our Patron Party in appreciation of your commitment to making the Acclaim Awards Gala the best event of the year! Sign up with SarahJane Brady at sarahjane@forumforequality.org.

I look forward to celebrating with you at one of the most memorable events of the year!

Yours in Equality,

SarahJane Brady
Executive Director, Forum for Equality

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It’s over. It has to be, right? After Governor Jindal announced on Sunday that the state would comply with the Fifth Circuit, and it ruled last night … he then moved the goalpost. He instead said he would then comply with the district court’s judgment, which was filed this morning and couldn’t be more “crystal clear,” to use the words of the state’s contracted attorney. You can read the opinion here.

The Fifth Circuit and the District Court both spoke clearly and unequivocally: these political shenanigans must cease and desist immediately. Our counsel will shortly be moving for attorneys’ fees, which the district court ruled it will award, and the more that Governor Jindal needlessly delays, the more this will cost the state.

With all of that, I am so very pleased that Governor Jindal’s continued attempts at scoring points with voters in Iowa were met with a deafening silence by state officials, as Clerks of Court across the state continued to implement and comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling. The clerks, not Governor Jindal, show the true spirit of Louisiana.

We are so happy to begin our celebration of the Independence Day weekend by celebrating our independence from discriminatory marriage laws. We have so much more to do to achieve a full state of equality, but you should be proud of all that we’ve accomplished as you celebrate this weekend.

Yours in Equality,
SarahJane Brady
Executive Director, Forum for Equality

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BREAKING NEWS: 5th Circuit

Today, the Fifth Circuit issued its ruling overturning the district court. We call upon Governor Jindal and all state officials to live up to their words that they will comply with the Fifth Circuit: the ruling is effective immediately.
To quote the court, the Supreme Court’s decision “is the law of the land and, consequently, the law of this circuit and should not be taken lightly by actors within the jurisdiction of this court.”

We expect Vital Records to immediately begin issuing marriage licenses in Orleans Parish, and we expect the reported problems in Offices of Motor Vehicles to immediately cease. Any state officials who refuse to comply will be investigated, and Forum for Equality Louisiana will take any and all steps to protect the rights of all citizens in this state, and to enforce the Supreme Court and Fifth Circuit’s unambiguous decisions.

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When I became chair of Forum for Equality Louisiana, I dedicated myself to do whatever it took to ensure marriage equality as well as protections in jobs, housing and public accommodations for the LGBT community.

We were elated at the Supreme Court order, then disheartened when our elected officials left Louisiana the only state in the nation where no licenses were being issued.

After the close of business Friday, with not even one parish clerk issuing licenses, we drafted and sent a letter to the Louisiana Clerks of Court Association, putting the association and the clerks on notice that they were depriving same-sex couples of the now fundamental constitutional right to marry and were subject to both official and personal liability. We also promised that Forum for Equality Louisiana would investigate all complaints beginning Monday morning. Click here to view the letter we sent.

Within an hour after Forum for Equality released the letter to the media statewide, Jefferson Parish’s Clerk of Court began issuing marriage licenses. We were able to facilitate and participate in the first same-sex marriage in the state! Michael Robinson and Earl Benjamin’s wedding was a deeply emotional ceremony, indeed a historic moment. View the the ceremony on WWLTV.com.

The dominos began following throughout the day as Clerks dropped their opposition. The Clerks of Court Association abruptly reversed itself, advising all clerks to immediately issue marriage licenses. As I write this, we have reports that almost all parishes are issuing licenses to all couples that apply, and we are working ensure that all parishes do. You can find the list of parishes issuing licenses here.

With the dust barely settled, we then joined the ACLU and six individual plaintiffs Tuesday in suing Governor Jindal for violating the Louisiana Constitution with his “Marriage and Conscience” executive order. Jindal’s unconstitutional order was issued hours after House Bill 707, which would have permitted discrimination in the name of religious belief, was killed 10-2 in a House committee. Forum for Equality actively fought against this bill with its coalition partners, including HRC and the ACLU. Click here to see a copy of the ACLU complaint.

We’re engaged in (and winning!) battles on more fronts than we have ever fought before! But none of this is possible without your continued support. WIll you join me today in investing in equality? The past few days have shown just a glimpse of what is possible – please join me now in saying NO to the state’s divisive policies and YES to a more inclusive and equal state! Please make a donation from the heart, and help build a state of equality here in Louisiana.
Yours in Equality,
Chris Otten
Chair, Forum for Equality Louisiana

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ACLU and Forum for Equality File Suit Against Governor Jindal Over Unconstitutional Marriage Executive Order

The ACLU Foundation of Louisiana, Forum for Equality Foundation, and 6 individual plaintiffs today filed suit challenging Governor Bobby Jindal’s “Marriage and Conscience Order,” signed on May 19, because it goes beyond his constitutional authority as governor. The lawsuit asserts that the “Marriage and Conscience Order” creates a class of persons who are protected over others due to their belief that same-sex couples should be denied marriage equality.

Prominent New Orleans law firm Herman Herman & Katz have joined in filing suit. The “Marriage and Conscience Order” sends the message that same-sex couples, their families and friends, and supportive employers should avoid living, working or visiting Louisiana, according to Herman Herman & Katz partner Steve Herman.

Under the Louisiana Constitution, the governor is not authorized to create a substantive right by executive order. The “Marriage and Conscience Order” creates substantive rights in favor of those who oppose marriage equality, and therefore is invalid. ACLU of Louisiana’s Executive Director Marjorie Esman said, “Governor Jindal has violated the Louisiana Constitution by setting up special protections for those who share his belief system. In our country no one is above the law, including the Governor. He swore to uphold the laws of Louisiana. This lawsuit seeks to hold him to that oath.” The plaintiffs in this lawsuit all believe differently from Governor Jindal on the issue of marriage equality, and need protection for their beliefs just as those whom he favors are now privileged by the order’s special protection.

Additionally, according to Esman, it has not gone unnoticed that Governor Jindal not only issued his “Marriage and Conscience Order” just hours after the House Civil Law and Procedure Committee voted to not advance an identical bill, but also one day after announcing an exploratory committee to prepare for a presidential run.

Both Esman and Herman agree that this executive order demonstrates a reckless disregard for both the law and interests of the people and businesses of Louisiana by interfering with the legislature’s powers and duties without authority, and contrary to the Louisiana Constitution.

A copy of the complaint may be found here: http://laaclu.org/resources/2015/jindal/063015ACLUvJindal-Complaint.pdf

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It’s finally here!

Equal in QAfter a historic win at the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday, marriage equality has come to Louisiana!

This morning, the Jefferson Parish Clerk of Court became the first Clerk of Court to give the green light to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Shortly thereafter, in a ceremony officiated by The Honorable Paula Brown of the Civil District Court of New Orleans, Michael Robin and Earl Benjamin were finally able to say I DO! Forum for Equality sends the happily married couple its biggest congratulations and love!

Couples like Michael and Earl are now able to obtain their marriage licenses in various parishes across the state. Please stay up to date through our Decision Day Resources. We continue to work across Louisiana to make marriage available in every Parish!

We also keep working to end discrimination against the LGBT community entirely!  The cycle of injustice against the LGBT community can only come to an end with your help!

Please join the Forum for Equality in our continued fight against those forces in Louisiana that would have the LGBT community treated as second-class citizens!

With Equality for all,
SarahJane Brady
Executive Director, Forum for Equality

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